Abubakar Malami, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on Friday announced plans to speedily delete the controversial section 84 (12) of the recently signed electoral act 2022 on the orders of a federal high court.
The announcement came hours after the court sitting in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, ordered the afro-mentioned section of the Electoral Act be deleted, saying it runs contrary to the Nigerian Constitution.
The section prohibits political appointees at all levels from participating during party primaries and congresses for the purpose of nominating candidates for any election.
Describing the controversial part, which the Nigerian Senate threw out when President Muhammadu Buhari requested it be amended, as unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever, Justice Evelyn Ayandike ordered Mr Abubakar who is the sole defendant in the suit filed by Nduka Edede, to delete it forthwith.
Mr Edede, a lawyer and top member of Action Alliance (AA) had argued that the controversial section conflicted with Nigerian citizens’ rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The judge agreed with his submission, noting that the Nigerian constitution already has a provision that mandates appointees of government seeking to contest elections to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election.
How judgment will be enforced – Malami
Explaining how the judgment would be enforced, Mr Malami, in a statement by his spokesman, Umar Gwandu, said he would immediately gazette the electoral act without section 84 (12) which he described as “offensive.”
“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will accordingly give effect to the court judgment in line with the dictates of the law and the spirit of the judgment,” the statement reads.
“The judgment of the court will be recognised by the government printers in printing the Electoral Act.
“The Act will be gazetted factoring the effect of the judgment into consideration and deleting the constitutionally offensive provision accordingly.
“The provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is not part of our law and will be so treated accordingly,” it added.
Justify the speedily implementation of the judgment which runs in sharp contrast with the Buhari administration’s reputation for scant regard for court decisions, Malami cited constitutional provisions as a backing.
“This is in line with the dictates of chapter 7, Part 4, Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) on enforcement of decisions that makes it a point of duty and obligation on all authorities and persons to have the judgment of the Federal High Court, among others, to be enforced,” the AGF said.
Mr Malami and other political appointees are rumored to be nursing various ambitions as the general election next year draws near. The controversial section, if not deleted, disqualifies them from achieving their goals hence the need to ensure immediate enforcement.
With both the plaintiff who instituted the suit (Edede) and the defendant sued in the case (Malami), being in agreement with the judgment, it may well be taken that there would be no appeal against the verdict.
A third party not involved in the case at the trial court and suddenly shows interest in pursuing an appeal against the verdict will have to surmount a legal obstacle obtaining the court’s leave to file such appeal.