Supreme Court joins Rivers govt in Buhari, Malami’s suit against section of Electoral Act

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The Supreme Court, on Thursday, joined the Rivers State Attorney-General and the Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly as defendants in a suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) seeking to nullify Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

Messrs Buhari and Malami filed their suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

Leading a seven-member panel of the Supreme Court, Musa Dattijo-Mohammed granted the request by the Rivers State government to be joined as defendants in the suit regarding the controversial clause of the Electoral Act 2022.

While moving the application to be joined, a lawyer to the new defendants, Emmanuel Ukala, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said his client’s decision to join the suit was informed by the fact that their interest would be affected by the outcome of the case.

At Thursday’s sitting, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi, also a senior advocate, and counsel for the National Assembly, Kayode Ajulo, did not oppose the joinder applications.

Subsequently, the panel ordered parties to file and exchange all necessary court papers on or before next Wednesday.

The suit was adjourned until May 26, for hearing.

Backstory

The controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022, provides 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.”

But the National Assembly, which was the sole defendant before the Rivers State government was joined, vehemently objected to the filing of the suit at the apex court.

The National Assembly’s lawyer, Mr Ajulo, in a preliminary objection, said the “court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine this suit.”

Plaintiffs’ prayers

In the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, Messrs Buhari and Malami are seeking an order of the apex court to strike out the section of the Electoral Act, which they argue was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.

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Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

According to the court document published by Sahara Reporters, the plaintiffs contend that the Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.

The plaintiffs also contended that the Nigerian constitution already provides qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners and Special Advisers.

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