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Electoral Act: Falana faults court order on deletion of Section 84 (12)




A HUMAN rights activist Femi Falana has faulted the ruling of a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia which ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) to delete Section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act.

The section bars political appointees at any level from voting or being voted for in primary elections of political parties.

Justice Evelyn Anyadike, in a ruling, declared the section unconstitutional, null and void and directed the AGF to delete it from the Act.

However, in a statement on Saturday, Falana argued that the judge erred in the ruling.

He said, “Sections 66 (1) (f), 107(1) (f),137 (1) (f) and 182 (1) (f) of the Constitution relied upon by his lordship require persons employed in the public service of either the Federal Government or State Governments.

“Specifically, each of the aforesaid sections provides that no person shall be qualified for election into the Senate or House of Reps if:
(f) he is a person employed in the public service of the Federation or of any State and has not resigned, withdrawn or retired from such employment 30 days before the date of the election.”

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said that by virtue of section 318 of the Constitution, political appointees are not included in the public service list.

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To that extent, Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act was annulled on very faulty ground, he said.

“No doubt, the judge would have dismissed the case if his attention had been drawn to the cases of DADA v. ADEYEYE (2005) 6 NWLR (Pt. 920) 1 at 19 ASOGWA v. CHUKWU (2003) 4 NWLR (Pt. 811) 540 OJONYE V. ONU & ORS (2018) LPELR-44223) where the appellate courts have held that political appointees or political office holders are not public servants as provided for under the Constitution,” he added.

In a separate statement, Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) also faulted the court ruling, noting that the Electoral Act is an Act of the National Assembly.

“How can you nullify an Act without joining the institution that made the Act?” he asked.

“When a defendant (federal government) rejoices over a judgment delivered against it as a party, then you know there is a problem in Nigeria. Let the National Assembly, the political parties and NGOs appeal against the judgment as interested parties,” Adegboruwa said.

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