A Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State has ordered the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to immediately delete Section 84 (12) of the Amended New Electoral Act.
The court in a judgment delivered by Justice Evelyn Anyadike on Friday held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and cannot stand as it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.
In the suit marked FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, Justice Anyadike 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.
While signing the Electoral Bill into law last month, President Buhari had asked the National Assembly to delete section 84 (12), which restricts sitting cabinet members from contesting for elective offices without resigning.
Section 84(12) states that “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.”
The President subsequently sent a formal request to the National Assembly for it to delete the clause.
But the lawmakers last week rejected the bill through a voice vote when it was tabled to be read a second time.
On Wednesday, the AGF, Abubakar Malami said following the Senate’s refusal, the Nigerian government would consider all other options available to it before a position will be taken.
With the provisions of this act, political appointees such as Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation; Malami, Minister of Justice; Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment; Emeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education; Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, among others who have been reportedly linked to presidential and governorship ambitions must resign if they want to contest in 2023.
Malami is said to be interested in becoming Kebbi governor; Nwajiuba is being projected by the Project Nigeria Group (PNG) for the presidency; Ngige says he is consulting on running for president; Akpabio has received the backing of the Godswill Akpabio Uncommon Transformational Support Organisation (GAUTSO); the Southern Mandate Group and Chibuike Amaechi Crusaders 2023 want the transportation minister to succeed Buhari.