Akpabio, Nwajiuba Resign, As Appeal Court Says Emefiele Can Remain

Akpabio, Nwajiuba Resign, As Appeal Court Says Emefiele Can Remain

BY MUYIWA OYINLOLA AND DEBORAH MUSA, ABUJA

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed all members of his cabinet and appointees vying for electoral offices to resign on or before May 16.

The directive was given during the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by the President in Abuja.

The president said this while praising the Minister of State for Education, Mr Emeka  Nwajiuba, for braving the odds and handing in his resignation after purchasing the presidential nomination form.

Buhari’s directive was pursuant to “Section 84, 12, of the amended Electoral Act which 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”.

It was also gathered that Minister of Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio resigned from Buhari’s cabinet to pursue his presidential ambition.

A source revealed that, “Akpabio has resigned his appointment as Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry and will soon submit his nomination form, in line with the guidelines of his party, the All Progressives Congress,

Minister of State, Mines and Steel, Mr Uche Ogar, is running for the governorship position in Abia, while Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, also declared her ambition to contest the senatorial seat in Plateau. 

Ngige who is seeking to be president but has yet to purchase his nomination form of N100m, says he will consult Buhari and his constituency on whether to resign.

He said he is not in a hurry to resign from his appointment and that he has to consult with President Muhammadu Buhari and his constituents before tendering any resignation letter.

According to him, Buhari gave a window for those that need clarifications on his pronouncement to meet him.

“I have no reaction for now because the President said if anyone wants clarifications, the person should meet him.

Buhari and Akpabio

“So I have to consult him and consult my constituents, Anambra State because I am holding the office for the government and my constituents”. 

Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, yesterday dismissed the judgement of the Umuahia Federal High Court in Abia State, which voided Section 84, 12, of the Amended Electoral Act, 2022.

The appellate court maintained that the Plaintiff, Mr. Nduka Edede, lacked the right to institute the action as he failed to convince the cause of action that warranted him to come before the court on the matter

The court held that the plaintiff was unable to prove how the section 84,12, of the newly amended Electoral Act affects him directly which led to the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which was filed by Mr Edede before the Umuahia court to be struck out

The appellate court, in a unanimous decision by a three-man panel of Justices, led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, ruled that the high court acted without jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, the appellate court, while determining the appeal on the merit, held that section 84,12, of the Electoral Act was unconstitutional because it is in breach of Section 42 (1)(a) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, stressing that the section denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.

The judgment followed an appeal marked: CA/OW/87/2022, which was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

Recall that Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Umuahia High Court in March, vacated section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 and ordered that it should be deleted by the Attorney-General of the Federation for being inconsistent with the Constitution.

Following Justice Anyadike’s judgement, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister to Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, disclosed his decision to carry out the judgement with the court order.

Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, made it mandatory that political office holders must firstly resign from office, before they could run for any elective position.

A member of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, PDP-Enugu State, has commended the Appeal Court for setting aside the judgment of a Federal High Court in Umuahia which voided Section 84,12, of the Electoral Act 2022.

Okechukwu, who is Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, gave the commendation when he moved a motion of Personal Explanation at Wednesday’s emergency plenary.

The Appellate Court, however, held that the provision was unconstitutional as it violated Section 42 (1) (a) of the Constitution and denied some citizens the right to participate in election.

Okechukwu said that Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 seeks to provide level playing ground for all aspirants and to ensure smooth running of state institutions.

“As a matter of fact, it is very clear that critical institutions like the CBN, Attorney General of the Federation and other positions and people occupying those positions are running for elections without resigning.

“I am happy that the Appeal Court in the interim has set this aside, the judgment voiding section 84 (12) so that institutions of state can run smoothly.

“You can imagine what happens to our stock market, our monetary policies when these superintendents get into the arena and begin to play the ball without leaving office.

“I want to thank the court, I am sure this will be further tested in the Supreme Court, but in the interim, the amendment of that section by the Umuahia Court has been set side’’, he said.

Nwajiuba resigns
Nwajiuba

Also the court of Appeal decision has put paid to the request by Emefiele praying the lower court to allow him the right of staying in office to contest the primary election before resigning as the Constitution provides a 30 days window before election. This implies that Mr Godwin Emefiele and others would remain in office and contest the parties’ primaries.

Recall that Emefiele has asked a court to declare that he can contest for the presidential ticket of any political party while serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. 

In the suit he filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on May 5, Mr Emefiele, through his lawyer, Mike Ozekhome, no law exempted him from contesting the primary election of any political party as a sitting CBN governor.

“The plaintiff is legally competent to contest the primaries of any political parties while still serving as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, in so far as he gives 30 days’ notice of his resignation, withdrawal from the services of the CBN as its governor in accordance with the provisions of section 167 and 318 of the constitution”, the plaintiff’s lawyer said.

Pressure has mounted on Mr Emefiele to step down from office since the information about his presidential ambition leaked to the public earlier this year.

In February, a PREMIUM TIMES editorial called on Mr Emefiele to resign and pursue his political ambition, if he had any, or publicly distance himself from groups clamouring for him to contest the forthcoming presidential election scheduled

Mr Emefiele spoke for the first time on his reported plan to run for the presidency in the forthcoming 2023 election last Saturday.

He spoke after reports that a group had purchased the N100 million worth of presidential Nomination and Expression of Interest forms of the All Progressives Congress ,APC, for him.

He said, although he had yet to decide to contest the presidential election, should he heed the call to run for the presidency, he would use his “Own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my own Nomination Forms”.

In his suit confirming his political ambition, Mr Emefiele sued the Independent National Electoral Commission ,INEC, and the Attorney-General of the Federation asking the court to restrain them from compelling him to resign as the CBN governor to run for office in 2023.

His lawyer, Mr Ozekhome, expressed fears that the INEC and the AGF are making “frantic efforts to disqualify” Mr Emefiele “from participating in the presidential primaries, for not resigning from his office before the parties primaries”.

Emefiele, therefore, prayed among others, an order that he “cannot be hindered, stopped or precluded from participating, voting or being voted for at the congress or convention of any political party of his choice for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for the election to the office of President or any other office under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ,as amended”.

He also sought another order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants ,INEC and AGF, “From hindering, stopping or precluding the plaintiff from participating, voting or being voted for at the congress or convention of any political party of his choice for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for the election to the office of the President or any other office under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ,as amended”.

According to court documents seen, Mr Ozekhome, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria ,SAN, said: “The plaintiff in any event being a public officer is governed by section 318 of the constitution and not the said section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022”.

He urged the court to declare that the provisions of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022, as amended, allegedly being relied on by the INEC and the AGF to disqualify him to contest primary elections, “Are inconsistent with the provisions of section 137(1}{a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 ,as altered, which and have been declared so by a court of competent jurisdiction”.

He also urged the court to declare that he is only subject to the provisions of section 137(1) (g) and 348 of the Nigerian Constitution “which require a public officer seeking election into a political office to resign, withdraw or retire from his appointment at least 30 days to the presidential election, rather than by the provisions of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 or the guidelines, rules, criteria, measures or conditions made by the plaintiff’s political party or any political party”.

Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court is set to hear the case on Monday but with the turn of events regarding the Appeal Court ruling , the Federal High Court may strike out the matter because it cannot override the appeal court.


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