NASS Set For Showdown With Executive Over Abia Court Verdict

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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.

The federal government has said the process of deleting section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, is still on.

The attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the federal executive council meeting presided over President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Asked to give an update on the implementation of the ruling by a federal high court in Umuahia, Abia State, that ordered him to delete section 84 (12) of the amended electoral act, he said the process was being worked on by the concerned agencies.

He said, “The true position of it, in that respect, is that government printers, and indeed Law Reform Commission, among others, that are responsible for the codification and gazetting of our laws, are working naturally, hand in hand with the Office of the Attorney General for the purpose of ensuring that what goes into our laws are indeed in line with the provision of the law.

“And above all, as you rightly stated, the possibility of an appeal is equally there. So, what I am saying in effect is that the deletion of section 84 Subsection 12 is a work in progress and is being considered as such.”

 

 Lawyers Welcome Planned Appeal By NASS

Meanwhile, some lawyers in the country yesterday welcomed the decisions of the National Assembly to appeal the judgement, saying it will enhance the country’s jurisprudence.

According to them, the judge went beyond the powers given to him on such matters.

They called on the National Assembly to immediately appeal the judgement and to expect that the case will get to the Supreme Court where it would be decided one way or the other.

A senior advocate, Mr Abdul Balogun, said the judgement will surely crumble at the appeal.To him, a court should not exercise such powers and come up with such judgment.

Another lawyer, Sylvanus Akpotia, said the judgement may lead the country into chaos in the electoral process. To him, until the judgment is tested at the court of Appeal, it remains the position of the law.

He said, “I applaud the Senate and the House of Representatives for the resolution. The move will deepen our democracy and law practice in the country.”

”Until a judgment is set aside by a higher court, it must be obeyed, even if it is given by a drunken hooligan. But I expect an appeal against it in the next few days.”

To Barrister Ismail Amedu, the court’s position is a dangerous precedent in the country’s jurisprudence.

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