Electoral Act: NASS Set For Showdown With Executive Over Abia Court Verdict

The two chambers of the National Assembly have resolved to appeal last Friday’s judgment by a Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, nullifying the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
That provision mandates political appointees with political ambitions to resign their positions before contesting in primary elections.

The resolution was first reached at the Senate during plenary yesterday, following the consideration of a motion entitled: “Urgent need to appeal the judgment of the Federal High Court Umuahia on Suit No.: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022 on Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.”

Also, the House of Representatives resolved to appeal the same judgement, which directed the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, to delete section 84(12) from the new electoral act.

In the Senate, the motion was sponsored by Senator George Thompson Sekibo (Rivers East) and co-sponsored by 79 other senators.

Sekibo, in his presentation, observed that Section 4(1)(2) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, vested the power of lawmaking for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the National Assembly.

According to him, the interpretation of the meaning of the words ‘civil service’ and ‘public service’ in Section 318 was unambiguous, saying, “there’s a difference between the civil service or public service and political appointment.”

He called on the Senate to show concern about the judgment especially when it was not given opportunity to represent itself in a matter that emanates from its legitimate functions, warning that “letting the judgment go without concern will become a precedent on which any person could go to court and obtain judgment to ridicule the good intentions of the National Assembly as an institution.”

The Senate, accordingly, resolved to appeal the judgment.

At the proceedings in the Green Chamber, the House resolved to report the trial judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike, to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for probe.

The lawmakers expressed disappointment and displeasure with the judgement, which they said was aimed at usurping the powers of lawmaking conferred on them by the 1999 Constitution as amended.

The lawmakers criticised the judiciary and the executive for 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 from the media and vowed that he would not sit back and allow the parliament to be ridiculed on 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, saying parliament must appeal the judgment and ensure that it was set aside.

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