Rivers State Joins Buhari’s Electoral Act Challenge

President Muhammadu Buhari’s challenge against Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act has been joined by Rivers State.

Justice Muhammad Dattijo adjourned the matter following the concession by Buhari’s lawyer Lateef Fagbemi that the speaker, Rivers State House of Assembly and Attorney General, Rivers State, be joined as parties.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami had, on April 29, filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court seeking an interpretation of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

The President and AGF, the plaintiffs, listed the National Assembly as the sole defendant. They ask the Supreme Court to strike down a portion of the Electoral Act that they claim violates the country’s Constitution.

In the document, the plaintiffs contend that 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 as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.

The plaintiffs also contended that the 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.

They urged the court to make: “A declaration that the joint and combined reading of Sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended); the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.”

In a related development, the National Assembly has asked the Supreme Court to strike out the suit instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a counter-affidavit submitted by its lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, the National Assembly stated that the Supreme Court could not be used to change any provision of any law passed by legislators in the exercise of their legislative duties as allowed by the Constitution.

They argued that the 1999 Constitution, as amended, gave the National Assembly the power to make laws for good governance in Nigeria.

The Supreme Court has fixed May 26 for a hearing after joining Rivers State as an interested party.

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