By Steve Oko
The newly-amended Electoral Act recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari, has suffered a major setback as a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Friday, ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to delete Section 84(12) of the Act.
Justice Evelyn Anyadike, in a judgement, held that the section was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck down as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
The court ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to “forthwith delete the said Subsection 12 of Section 84 from the body of the Electoral Act, 2022”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had while signing the amended Electoral Act urged the National Assembly to delete the provision claiming that it violated the Constitution and breached the rights of government appointees.
Buhari also wrote a letter to both chambers of the National Assembly seeking amendment by way of deleting the provision an amendment the Senate rejected in plenary.
Justice Anyadike in the Suit marked FHC/UM/CS/26/2022 held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election and that any other law that mandated such appointees to resign or leave the office at any time before that was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal null and void to the extent of its inconsistency to the clear provisions of the Constitution.
The plaintiff, Nduka Edede of the Action Alliance, had gone to the court to seek proper interpretation of Section 84(12) of the New Electoral Act.
Counsel to the Plaintiff, Emeka Ozoani, SAN, while addressing newsmen, said that the National Assembly should no longer proceed with any amendments to the Act.
He said that “by this judgment, the National Assembly is not required to further make any amendments to the section as the import of this judgment is that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act is no longer in existence or part of the Electoral Act.”