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General News of Thursday, 12 May 2022


Electoral Act: Reps say status quo remains

Members of the House of Representatives at plenary Members of the House of Representatives at plenary

The House of Representatives has said the letters and spirit of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is still alive and in force.

The House also hailed the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for asking his ministers nursing electoral ambition to resign while advising Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, to resign if he wants to run for president in the 2023 general elections.

Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, stated this at a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday May 11, in reaction to the judgment of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, which nullified the judgment of Justice Evelyn Anyadike of a Federal High Court in Umuahia, which voided the provision of Section 84(12) of the Act.

The Appellate Court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the High Court acted without jurisdiction. The Appeal Court held that the plaintiff, Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to institute the action.

According to the Appellate Court, Edede, failed to establish any cause of action that warranted him to approach the court on the issue, noting that the plaintiff was unable to prove how he was directly affected by that section of the newly amended Electoral Act.

Consequently, it struck out the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which Edede filed before the Umuahia court.

Nonetheless, the Appellate Court, while determining the appeal on the merit, held that the said provision of the electoral law was unconstitutional because it is in breach of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stressing that the section denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.

The judgment followed an appeal marked: CA/OW/87/2022, which was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party.

Justice Evelyn Anyadike of a Federal High Court in Umuahia, had in March, struck down Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and ordered that it should be deleted by the Attorney-General of the Federation for being inconsistent with the Constitution.

According to the House’s spokesman, if the Umuahia court’s judgment was set aside by the appellate court, there is no need for the chamber to appeal.

Kalu said, “Let this be made known. Whatever law we make is to cure mischief in society. Our hands cannot be tied to doing what the Constitution has energised us to do. We will do our part, and the other arms will do their part. Let us get the judgment, and we would know whether it sought to tie our hands while doing our constitutional mandate or not. If it is, we will find a way to untie our hands.

“But for now, as it is, the spirit and letters of 84(12) are alive. The status quo remains. And I will advise those affected by Section 84(12) to comply. And I am happy that Mr. President, today, has asked those working with him to take the necessary steps, to do what is expected of them.”

Meanwhile, it was a rowdy session at the House of Representatives on Wednesday when the chamber passed an amendment to the Electoral Act, 2022 to recognise statutory delegates at primaries, congresses and conventions of political parties. The passage was in concurrence with the Senate which had earlier, on Tuesday, held an emergency session to correct what the House called a “fundamental error.”

Although the House had adjourned plenary to May 24, 2022, the lawmakers were recalled to amend Section 84(8) of the Act to provide for automatic or statutory delegates.

However, two amendments bills were circulated in the chamber. While one contained the proposed amendment for Section 84(8), the other sought amendment to Section 29.

Consequently, the majority of the lawmakers opposed the amendments as they were put to voice vote, while the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, who presided over the session, overruled them amidst protests.

Wase later called for the withdrawal of the document on Section 29, which proposed to reduce the period within which political parties must submit names of their candidates for elective public offices to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

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