Damilola Aina, Abuja

Daily Courier – The Supreme Court has dismissed the suit instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari against the National Assembly, challenging the legality of section 84 subsection 12 of the Electoral Act 2022.

The court held that President Buhari having assented to the bill on February 25, 2022 can not turn around to challenge same act.

Section 84 (12) of the Act says, “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.”

In a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice Emmanuel Agim, the apex court held that allowing the President’s suit will amount to aprobating and reprobating at same time and no court of law shall allow such.

The court held that the suit is a gross abuse of the court process.

“There is no provision in the constitution that vests the president the power to challenge the constitutionaility or desirability of a legislation after he has assented or denied his assent. In this case, the president gave his assent,” the apex court held .

President Buhari and Malami had in the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022, contended that section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022, was inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

The Plaintiffs, among other things, sought “a declaration that the joint and or combined reading of Section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution, 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”.

“A declaration that having regard to the clear provision of section 1(3) of the Constitution read together with section 4 of the same Constitution, the legislative powers vested in the defendant do not permit or empower it to make any other law prescribing additional qualifying/disqualifying grounds for election to the national assembly, house of assembly, gubernatorial and presidential election outside the express constitutional qualification and disqualification provisions as already provided in each or all of sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), and without amendment to any of those sections is for the reason of inconsistency, unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

As well as, “An order nullifying the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 by application of the blue-pencil rule, for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and having been made in excess of the legislative powers of the defendant as enshrined in section 4 of the constitution (as amended).”

Meanwhile, though the National Assembly was originally cited as sole Respondent in the matter, however, Rivers State, through the Speaker of its House of Assembly and its Attorney-General, subsequently applied and were joined as interested parties in the matter.