In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court has struck out the suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to void section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

The seven-man panel led by Justice Muhammad Dattijo held that President Buhari was not a proper person to approach the apex court with such suit, owing to the nature of reliefs that were sought.

Yesterday, the apex court held that it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit, which it said amounted to an abuse of the judicial process.

Buhari and Malami had in the suit 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 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

The plaintiffs, among other things, sought “a declaration that by 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”.

They also sought “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).” The President and minister contended that without amendment to any of those sections, the action of the defendant in prescribing new qualification and disqualification provision is unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

Futhermore, Buhari and Malami prayed the apex court for “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).”

Although the National Assembly was originally cited as the sole respondent in the matter, Rivers State, through the Speaker of its House of Assembly and its Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, subsequently applied and were joined as interested parties in the matter.

While opposing the suit, Rivers State, in its preliminary objection filed before the apex court, argued that section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 was “neither a detraction from the provisions of section 84(3) of the same Act nor from the provision of sections 42(1), 65, 66, 107, 131, 137, 177, 182 and 192 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and there is no any abuse of the Constitution by the defendant in enacting the provisions of section 84(12) of the Act”.

It argued that President Buhari, having assented to the Electoral Bill,, “has conclusively discharged his duty under the Constitution”.

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