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Court fixes May 24 for clarification of appeal court’s judgment on section 84 (12)

Court fixes May 24 for clarification of appeal court’s judgment on section 84 (12)
May 16
14:56 2022

A federal high court in Abuja has fixed May 24 for a hearing in a suit instituted against President Muhammadu Buhari by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on sections 84 (11)  and (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, fixed the date to enable parties in the suit to address him on the effect of the recent appeal court judgment which ordered that section 84 (12) be expunged for being unconstitutional.

On March 18, a federal high court in Umuahia, Abia capital — in a suit filed by Nduka Edede, a lawyer and member of the Action Alliance (AA) — ordered the AGF to immediately delete the section on the grounds that it violates the provisions of the constitution.

But in its ruling on Wednesday, May 11, the appellate court judges headed by Hamma Barka held that Evelyn Anyadike, judge of the Umuahia court, did not have the necessary jurisdiction to make such an order because the plaintiff did not have the locus to file the case in the first place.

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The appellate court, however, held that if 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 Nigerians their right to participate in elections.

At the resumed session on Monday, the judge asked the plaintiff represented Joseph Daudu, a senior advocate, if the court can still proceed with the matter.

Responding, Daudu answered in the affirmative, explaining that there is no issue of fundamental rights before the court.

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He said the appellate court held that section 84 (12) contravened section 42 (1)(a) of the constitution which has to do with the fundamental rights of a certain class of citizens. He added that fundamental rights were not among the issues before the court, hence the court can proceed.

He noted that the appellate court also held that section 84 (12) did not violate the provisions of the constitution on requirements for qualification and disqualification as the said portions of the constitution concern public servants — whom the court said are quite distinct from political appointees.

The senior lawyer added that the judgment of Justice Anyadike was set aside because the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit in the first place.

However, Oladipupo Okpeseyi who represented President Buhari and the AGF insisted that there is no difference between the suits.

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After their submissions, Ekwo advised the PDP to take a second look at its process and fixed May 24 for a hearing.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/ CS/247/2022, the plaintiff is seeking a declaration that Buhari’s power regarding lawmaking is limited to assenting to a bill of the national assembly or withholding assent — and does not extend to giving conditional assent.

The PDP also wants the court to hold that section 84 (12) is constitutional and is to be enforced by INEC.

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