The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said on Wednesday that the process of implementing the judgement of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State, on the Electoral Act is still in progress.
Mr Malami stated this while speaking with State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
A judge,Evelyn Anyadike, had on Friday declared that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 passed by the National Assembly was inconsistent with Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(g) and 182(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution.
The section reads: “No political appointee at any level shall be a 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.”
A member of the Action Alliance (AA), Nduka Edede, had approached the court for the nullification of the section on the ground that it conflicts with the 1999 Constitution.
Mr Edede picked the Attorney-General of Federation and Minister of Justice, as the only defendant, leaving out other important bodies such as the National Assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) with high stakes in the making and operation of electoral laws.
Mrs Anyadike agreed with the plaintiff that the provision violated the constitutional rights of Nigerian citizens.
Shortly after the judgement, Mr Malami, in a statement by his spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, appeared to have foreclosed any appeal against the judgement by declaring that the government will enforce the verdict by gazetting the Electoral Act with the “offensive provision” deleted from it.
Implementation process still on
On Wednesday, the Senate and House of Representatives said though they were not joined in the suit, they would appeal it.
The House of Representatives did not only ask Mr Malami not to execute the directive of the court to allow it to appeal it, the lower chamber also vowed to petition the National Judicial Council (NJC) over the circumstances surrounding the procedure of the suit in court.
Some lawyers and members of the civil society organisations (CSOs) had also criticised Mrs Anyadike and Mr Malami over the decision toppling one of the most significant innovations in the new law.
But speaking on Wednesday, Mr Malami said the process of implementing the judgement is still on.
“My clear response arising therefrom is the fact that truly there exists a court judgement.
“By the judgement, the court directed the Office of the Attorney General to take the necessary steps to delete the provision, which in essence implies that the provision should not form part of our laws.
“Whether it has been deleted, or has not been deleted, is indeed a function of agencies of government and associated relevant parastatals.
“But the true position of it in that respect, is the fact 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.
“So, what I am saying in essence, it is indeed a work in progress against the background of the fact that the Law Reform Commission is involved statutorily, which is a parastatal under the Office of the Attorney General, is a party to the process of codification.
“The government printers, which are saddled with the responsibility of gazetting our laws on the request of the Office of the Attorney General, are equally involved. And above all, as you rightly stated, the possibility of an appeal is equally there.
“So, what I am saying in effect is deletion of Section 84 Subsection 12 is a work in progress and is being considered as such.”
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