From Okey Samson, Umuahia
The Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, on Friday, nullified Section 84 (12) of the newly amended Electoral Act, saying it was a violation of the provisions of the Constitution.
The court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Evelyn Anyadike, held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever, saying it ought to have been struck out. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr. Nduka Edede, a lawyer and chieftain of Action Alliance (AA) party, had approached the court, in the suit that had the Attorney General of the Federation as the defendant
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The plaintiff had asked the court to determine whether Section 84(12), when read together with Sections 66(1)(f) 107(1)(f)(137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution, was not inconsistent. The court in the suit, marked FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, agreed with the submissions, and ordered that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act was inconsistent with the rights of Nigerian citizens.Anyadike held that the said sections, already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election.
She held that any other law that mandated such appointees to resign or leave office at any time before that, was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal null and void, “to the extent of its inconsistency to the clear provisions of the Constitution”.
The judge thereafter ordered the Attorney General of the Federation, to forthwith delete the said Subsection 12 of Section 84 from the body of the Electoral Act, 2022. President Muhammadu Buhari, had while signing the amended Electoral Act, urged the National Assembly to delete the provision, as it violated the Constitution and breached the rights of government appointees. The President had further written a letter to both Chambers of the National Assembly, seeking amendment, by way of deleting the provision, an amendment the Senate rejected in plenary.
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Addressing journalists, counsel to the plaintiff, Emeka Ozoani (SAN), said by this judgment, the National Assembly was not required to further make any amendments to the section. According to him, “the import of this judgment is that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act is no longer in existence or part of the Electoral Act.
“It has provided a congenial atmosphere for politicking and political space in 2023”.
The defence counsel, Mr. Chris Nevo, hailed the judgement, saying the court had put to rest the section that had been in conflict with provisions of the Constitution. He said it was a big error on the part of the National Assembly, saying they would go back and do the right thing since the court had made pronouncement.
“It has also put to rest, every other issue so that we can move on with issues that are besieging us as a country and as a nation,” he said.