Electoral Act: Malami, APC govs, Lawan move to vacate court order

cef national assembly abuja x
cef national assembly abuja x

From Fred Itua, Abuja

Barely a week after senators threw out a fresh amendment request on the newly-signed Electoral Amendment Act by President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and some APC governors are making frantic efforts to vacate a court order restraining the National Assembly from tinkering with the Act.

The amendment sought by President Buhari failed last week Wednesday to scale through second reading on the floor of the senate during plenary.

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Senator Adamu Aliero, who came under a point of order, drew the attention of his colleagues to the provision of Rule 52(5) of the Senate Standing Order which states that “Reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might in the opinion of the President of the Senate prejudice the interest of parties thereto.”

He, therefore, advised the upper chamber to step down the consideration of the bill pending the vacation of a court order delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja last Monday on an ex-parte application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The judgment in favour of the PDP, barred President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Senate President from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022.

The court maintained that the Electoral Act, having become a valid law could not be altered without following the due process of law.

The bone of contention is Section 84(12) of the new law which deals with political appointees. It disqualifies political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of political parties for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for an election.

Daily Sun, however, learnt that Lawan, who made spirited efforts to convince senators 

to agree to the president’s request is being blamed in the presidency for failing to do enough to ensuere his colleagues accede to the amendment sought by President Buhari.

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A senator who spoke to Daily Sun, said few minutes before he signed the bill into law, Buhari had extracted a commitment from Lawan, that the fresh amendment from him would be effected on the bill immediately it gets to the senate.

The source said Lawan who was expected to brief the APC caucus in the senate, however,  pushed the responsibility to the Leader of the upper chamber, Yahaya Abdullahi, who failed to get the buy in of his colleagues before the bill was read for the second time.

The senator said the battle was far from over as Lawan, Malami and some APC governors have held meetings on how to vacate the court order secured by the PDP before representing the president’s request.

He also expressed the fear that Lawan may run into troubled waters with his colleagues and may face a stiff opposition if he makes any attempt to force the new amendment on senators.

He, however, expressed the optimism that if the senate president is able  to get the court order vacated this week as envisaged, the bill would be represented and could be passed before the end of March, before political parties commence their primaries ahead of the 2023 general elections.

He said lawmakers opposed to the amendment, were predominantly from the north, and were at loggerheads with their governors, and feared they may lose out in the primaries if political appointees were allowed to also vote.

Senate spokesman, Ajibola Bashir when contacted on moves to vacate the court order retorted: “Are you not aware that the bill was voted down at second reading?”