Written by on May 19, 2022

The Supreme court has joined the speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and Attorney General Rivers State in the suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation AGF seeking legal interpretation of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, which bars serving political appointees from taking part in a congress or convention of any political party either as delegates or aspirants.

Justice Muhammad Dattijo adjourned the matter following the concession by Buhari’s lawyer Lateef Fagbemi SAN that they are joined in the suit.

Fagbemi before conceding, initially opposed the application for joinder filed by the Rivers state counsel Emmanuel Okala SAN, on grounds that he was just served before the court sitting.

The apex court, therefore, granted the motion of joinder urging all parties to regulate all processes in the suit on or before May 24, 2022.

The court also urged all parties in the suit to reflect the ruling of Thursday, May 19 in their processes before the next adjourned date.

Justice Muhammad Dattijo, however, adjourned to May 26 for a hearing on the case.

The suit was filed a few days after the Court of Appeal set aside the judgment of the Federal High Court in Umuahia which ruled in March that the contentious section is at variance with the constitution.

In a notice of appeal before the apex court, the President and the AGF are seeking interpretation on whether section 84(12) does not amount to imposing additional grounds of qualification and disqualification for aspirants, in contradiction to what is provided for in sections 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended

The appellants are also challenging the legislative powers of the National Assembly to enact section 84(12) without a prior amendment to the constitutional provisions on qualification.

Among the reliefs sought is “an order nullifying the provisions 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 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Editor: Ena Agbanoma

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