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Statutory delegates can vote at APC presidential primary, court rules

Statutory delegates can vote at APC presidential primary, court rules
June 04
08:07 2022

A federal high court sitting in Kano has ruled that statutory delegates can vote at primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The ruling was given following a suit filed by Mas’ud Doguwa, Habibu Sani, and Bilyaminu Shinkafi.

The senate president, APC national chairman, speaker of the house of representatives, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) were listed as first to fourth respondents, respectively, in the suit marked FHC/KN/CS/137/2022.

In the suit filed on May 24, the plaintiffs had asked the court to determine if section 84(8) of the Electoral Act 2022 excludes statutory delegates from voting during primaries.

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Statutory delegates are current and former public office holders — they include presidents and governors.

A bill seeking to enable statutory delegates to vote at conventions and congresses was recently passed by the national assembly.

The bill followed an attempt by lawmakers to correct an “error” relating to section 84(8) of the electoral act.

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Leading the debate on the floor of the senate prior to the approval of the bill, Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy senate president, had said the electoral act amendment bill assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari in February only recognises ad hoc delegates.

However, the president is yet to assent to the bill on statutory delegates.

In the ruling on Friday, A.M. Liman, the presiding judge, held that section 84(8) does not exclude statutory delegates from voting at primaries.

According to the court, section 84(8) “cannot be interpreted to have excluded statutory delegates from voting at the convention, congress, or meeting by virtue of section 223 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and article 20(iv)(c) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) constitution, which allow statutory delegation to vote at convention, congress or meeting”.

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Meanwhile, the development comes after INEC had ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to use only statutory delegates for its primaries.

However, since Buhari is yet to assent to the bill on the matter, the PDP had issued a statement directing that only three ad hoc delegates per ward — elected at ward congresses — and one national delegate per LGA — elected at LG congresses — can vote at its primaries and convention.

The PDP has since concluded its presidential primary, while primaries for senate, house of representatives and state houses of assembly have held — but a few have been rescheduled.

However, for the APC, primaries for senate, state assemblies, and house of representatives have been organised, but its presidential primary is scheduled for June 6 to 8.

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