Bayelsa Times

Appeal court says section 84(12) of Electoral Act unconstitutional, but…

The appeal court says section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 is unconstitutional, yet voided the judgment of the lower court against it.

While nullifying the judgement on technical grounds, the three-member panel of appeal court judges said on Wednesday that, nonetheless, the provision violates the rights of a section of people.

President Muhammadu Buhari on February 25 assented to the electoral act amendment bill.

But he asked the national assembly to delete section 84(12) of the act, which 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 March 18, a Federal High court in Umuahia, Abia capital, in a suit filed by Nduka Edede, lawyer and member of the Action Alliance (AA), ordered Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), to immediately delete the section on the grounds that it violates the provisions of the constitution.

Reacting to the court’s decision, the AGF had said he would ensure compliance with the judgment.

But on April 7, a three-member panel of the appeal court led by Rita Nosakhare Pemu granted the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) permission to file a suit as an interested party against the March 18 judgment.

The ruling was on a motion marked: CA/OW/87/2022 filed by the PDP, with Edede and the AGF listed as respondents.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the panel of judges headed by Hamma Akawu Barka struck out the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022 filed by Edede before the Umuahia court and held that the federal high court Umuahia had no jurisdiction to hear the case because Edede lacked the locus standi to have filed the suit in the first place.

The court added that the plaintiff did not establish any cause of action to have warranted his approaching the court on the issue because he did not establish that he was directly affected by the provision.

The appellate court, however, held that it the suit had been properly instituted, it would have ruled that the provision is unconstitutional because it violates section 42 (1)(a) of the constitution and denies a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in elections.

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