Electoral Act: The Court prevents the AGF and others from thwarting an appeal against a verdict

Electoral Act: The Court prevents the AGF and others from thwarting an appeal against a verdict

Electoral Act: The Court prevents the AGF and others from thwarting an appeal against a verdict.

The Court of Appeal has directed the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and others to refrain from adopting actions that might stymie a hearing in an appeal filed against a Federal High Court decision that ordered the removal of section 84 (12) from the new Electoral Act.

This comes after the appellate court gave permission for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join as a party interested in an appeal against the high court’s decision to annul and strike down section 84 (12) of the Act.

The PDP was granted permission by the Appeal Court’s Owerri division to submit an appeal as an interested person against the decision of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, on the order to remove the clause from the Electoral Act.

The permission given to the PDP to file an appeal was prompted by pleas of its counsel, D.C Denwigwe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, according to an official order of the Court of Appeal sighted in Abuja and signed by the Presiding Justice of the court, Justice Rita Noshakhare Pemu.

Chief Nduka Edede and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF are the first and second respondents in the CA/OW/87/2022 appeal.

“Upon reading the application herein filed on 23-3-2022 with an affidavit in support sworn to by John Eronini on the same day, and after hearing DC Denwigwe SAN for the applicant and Chief Emeka Ozoani SAN for the first respondent, order is now given as follows;

“The applicant (PDP) is now granted leave to appeal as the person concerned in this appeal CA/OW/87/2022.”

“Because of the urgency of this appeal and its constitutional implications, it is necessary to hear this issue as soon as possible.”

“As a result, the Appellant is now granted until Tuesday, April 12, 2022 to submit its notice of Appeal, and the parties are to file their separate briefs of arguments within three days of the date of delivery of the notice and record of Appeal on the respondents.”

“The appellant will be allowed a further three days to file a response.”

“Parties shall refrain from taking any action that might jeopardize the hearing of the appeal.”

“The case has been rescheduled for the 4th of May, 2022, for the hearing of the appeal.”

“A new hearing notice will be given to the 12th respondents on February 2nd.”

Section 84 (12) of the modified Electoral Act was found unlawful and unconstitutional by the Federal High Court, Umuahia division, on March 18.

In a decision, Justice Evelyn Anyadike directed the Attorney General of the Federation to strike the aforementioned clause from the modified Electoral Act.

According to Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, “no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at any political party’s convention or congress for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

The high court that knocked down the clause ruled that provisions 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f), and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already required government officials wanting to run for office to retire at least 30 days before the election.

As a result, the court ruled that any other statute requiring such appointees to resign or leave office prior to that date was unconstitutional, illegitimate, illegal, and void to the degree that it contradicted the explicit requirements of the Constitution.

Following that, Justice Anyadike directed Abubakar Malami to strike the contested provision 84(12) from the constitution.

However, the National Assembly, which adopted the disputed section 84 (12), has filed an appeal with the Court of Appeal in Owerri against the Umuahia court’s decision directing the AGF to remove Section 84(12) of the modified Electoral Act.

The complaint was filed at the Federal High Court in Umuahia under the number FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, and the court ruled that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 was unconstitutional, unlawful, illegal, null and void, and of no effect.

In its appeal, the NASS stated that the high court erred in law since the phrase in question is aimed at political appointees rather than public officials.

The NASS contended that the high court issued a ruling on a topic not covered by the Electoral Act and that its decision was susceptible to being overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The National Assembly also questioned why it was not named as a respondent in the lawsuit, despite being the only body with the constitutional authority to amend any section of the legislation it enacted.

President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Electoral Act 2022 on February 25, but objected to Section 84 of the Act (12).

He then urged the National Assembly to alter the part of the Act, but the parliamentarians denied his request.

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has brought President Buhari before a Federal High Court in Abuja on its own, disputing attempts to change the modified Electoral Act.

Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Minister of Justice, the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Senate Leader, the House of Representatives Leader, and the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, were all sued.

The Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Deputy Senate Leader, and Deputy House of Representatives Leader were also named as defendants in the FHC/ABJ/CS/247/2022 complaint.

He then urged the National Assembly to alter the part of the Act, but the parliamentarians denied his request.

In the suit filed on its behalf by Chief James Ogwu Onoja, SAN, the main opposition party prayed the Federal High Court for an order of interim injunction restraining Buhari and other defendants from altering the duly signed Electoral Act or withholding its implementation, including the provisions of Section 84 (12) of the said Act, pending the resolution of the suit.

The PDP also sought a court order prohibiting the National Assembly from carrying out President Buhari’s request to remove Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or taking any action that would render the provision ineffective pending the resolution of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction.

The PDP’s complaint is that, having signed the Bill on February 25, 2022, President Buhari cannot issue a direction to the National Assembly to take immediate action to repeal the clause or any portion of the Act for any reason.

In a judgement on the PDP’s ex-parte motion, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the defendants in the litigation to cease all acts related to any attempt to amend the Electoral Act.

 

 

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