Electoral Act:Reps to report judge to NJC for empowering Malami to delete Section 84(12)
The House of Representatives is considering reporting Justice Evelyn Anyadike of a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, to the National Judicial Council for nullifying the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Justice Anyadike’s nullification thereby empowers the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to delete the section from the Act.
The House also resolved to appeal the judgement and have it upturned.
The lawmakers also asked Malami to allow the National Assembly to exercise its right to appeal the case.
Several members of the House, at the plenary on Wednesday, criticised the judiciary and the executive of usurping the powers of the legislature, stating that only the parliament and not a presidential appointee can amend the law.
The Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said he got to know about the case on the media. He said he discovered that the chamber was not served any notice, since it was not a party to the suit.
Gbajabiamila said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was rightly advised to approach the National Assembly for amendment of the Act.
The Speaker stated that he would not sit back and allow the parliament to be ridiculed under his watch.
Gbajabiamila said it was curious that the National Assembly was joined in the suit and the judgment was secured from a court in Umuahia.
The Speaker stated that the parliament must appeal the judgment and ensure that it was set aside. According to him, it is a mistake and the lawmakers must correct it.
Gbajabiamila appealed to the AGF to “tarry” and not take over the responsibility of the National Assembly.
The Senate had also on Tuesday resolved to take a decision on the matter today.
Section 84(10) of the Act reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
On Friday, Anyadike had held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever, saying it ought to have been struck out.
A lawyer and chieftain of Action Alliance party, Nduka Edede, had approached the court, in the suit that had the Attorney-General of the Federation as the Defendant.
The Plaintiff had asked the court to determine whether Section 84(12), when read together with Sections 66(1)(f) 107(1)(f)(137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution, was not inconsistent.
Malami had said his office would accordingly give effect to the court judgment in line with the dictates of the law and the spirit of the judgment.
The minister said, “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.
“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 make 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.”
Meanwhile, the National Assembly had been divided over the ruling by a Federal High Court, Abuja, stopping the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.); Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the parliament from tampering with the Electoral Act 2022.
While the Senate had insisted on going ahead to consider the request by the President, who asked the federal parliament to delete Section 84(14) of the new electoral law, the House said it would obey the court.
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, had stated that the ruling by the FHC negates the principles of Separation of Powers. The chamber had gone ahead to consider the executive bill for second reading and voted against it.
However, Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu, while addressing journalists on Tuesday, argued that the chamber would obey the Rule of Law principle.
Buhari, while assenting to the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on February 25, had highlighted sections of the new law that would revolutionalise the electoral system in the country but expressed reservations about Section 84 (12).
The President had last week officially conveyed his reservation about Section 84 (12) of the Act 2022 to the National Assembly, asking the lawmakers to delete it.