On Friday, the Nigerian apex court, the Supreme Court struck out a suit filed by the federal government against section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, on the grounds of incompetence and lacking merit.
The apex court in a unanimous decision described the suit by the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to challenge section 84(12) as an abuse of court process and thus dismissed it.
Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act states, “No political appointee of 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 in any election”. The president Mr. Buhari after assenting the Electoral Act of 2022 into Law on February 25, 2022, had written to the National Assembly asking that section 84(12) of the law be deleted on the ground that it was unconstitutional and was made in excess of the powers of the Assembly.
On the refusal of the National Assembly to delete the provision, the president and his attorney-general filed a suit against the provision at the Supreme court.
Justice Musa Dattijo-Mohammed who led a seven-judge bench of the court (which included John Okoro, Amina Augie, Lawal Garba, Ibrahim Saulawa, and Aokmaye Agim) pointed out that the plaintiffs; the President and the Attorney-General having earlier assented to section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 cannot turn around to approach the court to strikeo down.
The apex court held that “there is no provision in the constitution that vests the president the power to challenge the constitutionality or desirability of legislation after he has assented or denied his assent. In addition, the president gave his assent to the electoral act”.
The court also said that the request by President Buhari to the National Assembly to delete the provision amounted to a constitutional violation. The court thus upheld the objections raised by the National Assembly, the Rivers state government, and other defendants against the suit.