Electoral Act: S’Court begins hearing on Buhari, Malami’s suit May 19

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From Godwin Tsa, Abuja

The Supreme Court will on Thursday, May 19, begin hearing in the suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami challenging the section of the new Electoral Act disqualifying political appointees from voting as delegates or being voted for at a convention or congress of any political party.

Hearing notices have already been served on parties to the suit. In the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, Buhari and Malami are seeking an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, which they believe is inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.

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The plaintiffs seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022 by the apex court argued that the same Constitution has equally “the qualifying factors for election into the office of President, Vice President. Governor, Deputy Gavemor, Senate, House of Representatives, Houses of Assembly and Ministers.”

According to the court document, the plaintiffs contend that the Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.

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The plaintiffs are therefore seeking the following declarations:  “A declaration that the joint and or combined reading of the section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.

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“A declaration that having regard to the clear provision of section 1(3) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, read together with section 4 of the same Constitution, the legislative powers vested in the Defendants do not permit or empower it to make any other law prescribing additional qualifying/disqualifying grounds for election to the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential election outside the express constitutional qualification and disqualification provisions as already provided in each or all of sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and without amendment to any of those sections is for reason of inconsistency, unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

A declaration that section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 disqualifying political appointees from being voting delegates or be voted for at a convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election is discriminatory, inconsistent and in violent breach of the provision of each of the Sections, 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights and same is null and void by reason of its inconsistency.

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