A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, on Friday gave an order that makes it possible for political appointees to seek elective offices in the country without resigning their position before the primaries of their political parties.
The ruling is in line with an opinion by President Muhammadu Buhari that the section of the electoral act which mandates such appointees to resign before the party primaries disenfranchises them, and is against their fundamental human rights.
The court in a ruling on Friday, ordered the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), to delete section 84 (12) from the amended Electoral Act which was recently signed by the President.
The ruling was made following an ex-parte motion filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), seeking an order of court restraining the National Assembly from effecting President Buhari’s request to remove section 84 (12) from the amended Electoral Act.
While giving her ruling, the presiding judge, Justice Evelyn Anyadike, ordered Malami to delete Section 84 (12) from the amended Electoral Act without delay.
The particular Section 84 (12) states that “No political appointee at any level shall be 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.”
However, the section has been a source of heated debates with the AGF stating on Thursday that the Federal Government would pursue different options, including going to court, after the Senate refused to remove the clause from the Act as requested by President Buhari.
Justice Anyadike held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that government appointees seeking to contest elections are only to resign at least 30 days before the election.
The court, therefore, held that any other law that mandates such appointees to resign or leave office at any time before that, was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null and void, to the extent of its inconsistency to the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
With the ruling, the National Assembly is no longer expected to make any further amendments to the section as the judgement has effectively taken care of that.