By Innocent Anaba

The Supreme Court has heard the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, arguments in defence of the provisions of Section 84(12) of the newly enacted Electoral Act 2022, as an amicus curiae.

NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata in a statement, said: “Recall that following the public outcry that greeted the judgment of a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, which nullified Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, I issued a Statement on March 22, 2022, urging the generality of Nigerians, especially legal practitioners to refrain from employing intemperate language to characterise Judgments and/or judges of our courts. In that statement, I, however, promised that the NBA would apply for a certified true copy of the judgment and thereafter, decide on the next appropriate steps.

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Section 84 (8) of Electoral Act, 2022, party primaries and 2023 general elections

“You may also recall that the Court of Appeal recently allowed the appeal of an interested party and set aside the said Federal High Court judgment but not before stating, albeit as an obiter, that the vexed Section is discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

“Recently, the NBA became aware of the action filed at the Supreme Court, by the President of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation against the National Assembly, seeking to strike down the same Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act.

“In view of the NBA’s responsibility for the protection and defence of the rule of law and in consideration of the need to ensure that the controversy surrounding that Section of the Electoral Act is laid to rest once and for all,
I directed the NBA Public Interest Litigation Committee, NBA-PILC, to prepare and file an Application on behalf of the NBA to join the Supreme Court acts as an interested party or in the alternative that the NBA be heard as
Amicus Curiae.

“On May 24, 2022, the NBA’s application was filed and served on all the parties in the suit. In view of the urgency of the matter, the NBA-PILC also filed a response to the substantive suit before the Supreme Court and prayed the Court, in the event of the favourable consideration of the application, to deem NBA’s response as properly filed.

“In the alternative and in the event that the apex court was not inclined to granting NBA’s application to join the suit as an interested party, we prayed the Court to deem the already filed response as an Amicus brief.

“By the close of work on May 25, 2022, counsel to the plaintiffs served on the NBA, opposition to its application for joinder and the NBA-

PILC did not have the benefit of reviewing the process filed until this morning.

“Nevertheless, the NBA-PILC led by its Chairman, Dr. Charles Mekwunye,
SAN, appeared in court today together with some NBA National Officers and other lawyers and succeeded in convincing the Supreme Court of the need to hear from the NBA on such an important case with far-reaching public interest considerations.

“Ultimately, the Supreme Court heard the arguments of the substantive parties in the suit together with the arguments of the NBA as Amicus Curiae and reserved judgment in the suit to a date to be communicated to parties.

“Whichever way the Supreme Court decides, we are gratified that the NBA has fulfilled its obligations to Nigerians by rising to the defence of the rule of law and ensuring that the voice of the ordinary Nigerian was heard before the court made a pronouncement on such an important statutory provision,” he added.

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