By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has set aside the judgement of Justice Evelyn Anyadike of a Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, which voided the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Appellate Court in a judgement by a three-member panel headed by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the Federal High Court Umuahia had no jurisdiction to have entertained the case because the plaintiff, Nduka Edede, lacked the locus standi to have filed the suit in the first place.
The Appellate Court added that Edede did not establish any cause of action to have warranted his approaching the court on the issue because he did not establish that he was directly affected by the provision.
The Court of Appeal, therefore, struck out the suit marke, FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which Edede filed before the FHC in Umuahia.
While determining the appeal on its merit, the Appellate Court, however, held that the provision was unconstitutional because it violated Section 42 (1)(a) of the constitution and denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.
The judgement was on the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party.
Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act provides that: “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.”
The PDP had sued the President, Attorney General of the Federation, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Clerk of National Assembly.
It also sued the Senate Leader, House of Representatives Leader, and the Independent National Electoral Commission as 1st to 8th defendants respectively.
Others include Deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker of House of Representatives, Deputy Senate Leader, and Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives as 9th to 12th defendants in the matter.
The PDP had challenged the legality or otherwise of the National Assembly tinkering with the Electoral Act, after it had been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Amidst debate about the subject matter, a Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia and presided over by Justice Evelyn Anyadike, on March 18, ordered the AGF to delete Section 84(12) of the Act.
Anyadike, in the judgment, held that the section was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck down as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the Constitution.”
Anyadike held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f), and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election.