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Nigeria: Despite Commitments to Buhari, House Moves to Block Deletion of Section 84(12) of Electoral Act

There are strong indications that the leadership of the House of Representatives has initiated back channel moves to block the deletion of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, despite

There are strong indications that the leadership of the House of Representatives has initiated back channel moves to block the deletion of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, despite the commitments made to President Muhammadu Buhari by the federal lawmakers in an executive-legislative deal in order to avoid a presidential veto of the Electoral Act, THISDAY investigation has revealed.
Before Buhari signed the bill into law on February 25, 2022, he was said to have reached an agreement with both the Senate and the House of Representatives for the lawmakers to expunge the controversial Section 84(12) in the Act which deprived federal appointees their constitutional rights to vote and be voted for ahead of primary elections of political parties.

The section states: “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 nomination of candidates for any election.”
THISDAY gathered that after Buhari signed the new law, the Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila is bowing to pressure from some presidential aspirants to block it.
It was however learnt that the Senate is considering the president’s request to delete the unconstitutional clause.
A member of the House of Representatives, who is opposed to the moves by his colleagues to block it, told THISDAY that the agreement reached between Buhari and the House leadership was a standard agreement that was meant to be kept.
“When an agreement is reached, it should be kept. Before the president signed the Electoral Act, they agreed to delete that clause, but politics has now entered it. The House leadership is bowing to pressure from presidential aspirants.
“We heard that Gbajabiamila wants to be Governor of Lagos State. So, they don’t want to delete the controversial section from the Act. So, while the Senate is considering deleting it, the House may block it,” he explained.

While assenting to the Electoral Act 2010 (Amendment) Bill at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the president had highlighted sections of the new law that would revolutionalise the electoral system in the country but expressed reservations about Section 84 (12).
In the covering letter to the National Assembly, where he conveyed his reservations about the new law and also asked the lawmakers to delete the unconstitutional section, Buhari drew their attention to the provisions of Section 84(12), which, according to him, constitutes a “defect” that conflicts with extant constitutional provisions.

The president wrote, “I write concerning the recent assent to the Electoral Act (Amendment) 2022, and to draw your kind attention to some salient issues contained in the Act and to seek your immediate legislative action thereon.
“I have carefully studied the content of the recently assented Electoral Act (Amendment), 2022; I must admit that there are positive provisions that could revolutionise election process in Nigeria, particularly through the introduction of new technological innovations that will, in turn, guarantee the constitutional rights of citizens to vote and to do so effectively.
“The recently assented Electoral Act has improved and engendered clarity, effectiveness, and transparency of the election process, as well as reduced to the barest minimum incidences of acrimony arising from dissatisfied candidates and political parties.
“I, therefore, commend the legislative wisdom of the National Assembly which is in line with our policy to bequeath Nigerians and posterity, a landmark legal framework that paves the way for a credible electoral process that we would all be proud of.”

Buhari added, “I, however, will want to kindly draw your attention to the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Act, which I believe, constitutes a fundamental defect as it is in direct conflict with extant Constitutional provisions.
“Section 84 (12) of the Act constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at conventions or congresses of any political party, for the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the election.
“This provision has introduced qualification and disqualification criteria that are ultra vires the Constitution by way of importing blanket restriction and disqualification to serving political office holders of which they are constitutionally accorded protection.
“The practical application of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, (Amendment) 2022, is to subject serving political office holders to inhibitions and restrictions referred to under Sections 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“It is imperative to note, that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify, by extension as public officers within the context of the Constitution is resignation, withdrawal, or retirement at least 30 days before the date of the election, as provided in Section 66(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), among others.
“Hence, it will be stretching matters beyond the constitutional limit to import extraneous restrictions into the Constitution on account of the practical application of Section 84(12) of the Act where political parties’ conventions and congresses were to hold earlier than 30 days to the election.”
Buhari stated, “Arising from the foregoing, I request the National Assembly to consider immediate amendments that will bring the Act in conformity with the Constitution by way of deleting Section 84(12) accordingly.”


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