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Electoral Act: Senators debate ruling on contentious clause today

The Senate will, on Wednesday, debate the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abia State, which nullified the controversial Section 84(12) of the amended…

The Senate will, on Wednesday, debate the ruling of a Federal High Court in Abia State, which nullified the controversial Section 84(12) of the amended Electoral Act.

This followed a point of order raised by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (PDP, Rivers), who drew the attention of his colleagues to the court ruling. 

The section requires ministers, heads of agencies and other political appointees to resign before participating in primaries, conventions and other electoral activities.

But the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, on Friday nullified the section, saying it was a violation of the provisions of the constitution.

Sekibo, coming under Order 42 of the Senate Standing Orders, said the electoral law emanated from the National Assembly, therefore, the parliament should be joined as a party in the suit. 

He, therefore, moved that the issue be discussed during plenary today to avoid setting a bad precedent on laws enacted by the federal parliament. 

His motion was supported by Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu).

However, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta) who presided over the plenary, suggested that the debate on the issue be postponed to Wednesday since Senate President Ahmad Lawan and many other lawmakers were absent. 

He said postponing the debate till tomorrow would give more senators the opportunity to contribute. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had sought the amendment of the act to delete Section 84(12), which, he said, contravened the rights of political officeholders to vote or be voted for in political party conventions and congresses. 

But the parliament rejected the president’s request to delete the section.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said it will study the recent judgement nullifying the clause and decide on the appropriate action. 

This is as the umbrella body cautioned lawyers and members of the public against further comments disparaging the judgement and the judge. 

The association, in a statement signed by the NBA president, Olumide Akpata, on Tuesday, noted complaints that the judgement mixed up provisions mandating civil servants to resign 30 days before an election with those of political office holders during political party conventions. 

Akpata also noted the concerns about “the circumstances surrounding the case, especially the blistering speed with which the case, filed on 8th March 2022, was heard and determined on 18th March 2022.”

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