Section 84(12) Is Not Inconsistent With The Constitution

 By Samson R.Osagie,Ph.D

The recent judgement in Chief Ndudi Edede v. Attorney General of the Federation by the Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State is one judgement that cannot and should not Stand the test of Legal scrutiny because it was given per incuriam. There is no doubt that the powers of court to review actions including legislations by the Legislature is Constitutionally guaranteed under Section 251 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)

First, the speed with which the case was heard within eleven days, thus making history as the quickest suit to be heard and determined in Nigeria judicial history is suspect.

 Second, the non Joinder of the National Assembly which enacted the Law, means that the suit was heard without the necessary parties.

 Third, the judgement confused the persons who are political appointees as used in Section 84(12) of the New Electoral Act and and persons who are employed in the public service of the Federation or of any State as used in Sections 66(1)f, 107(1)g 137(1)g and 182(1)g. If the judge has painstakingly studied  the phlethora of cases that has been decided which clearly distinguished between public officers or persons employed in the public service of the federation or any state from political appointees who does not enjoy some permanency in their jobs or appointment she would have arrived at a different verdict.



 ASOGWA V. CHUKWU (2003) 4NWLR (Pt.811) 540@576A-F;

DAVA v. ADEYEYE (2005)6NWLR (Pt.920) 1@19; etc

Also, had the judge examined carefully the clear provisons of Sections 277(1), Part 1 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution, she would have convinced herself that in enacting Section 84(12), the Legislature did not intend to refer to persons employed in the public services of the State or Federation.

Curiously, the sole defendant in the suit , to wit ,the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation did not waste time in celebrating the judgement and pledging to comply with same with the kind of alacrity that we have never seen when it comes to obeying court judgements.

It is interesting to note that the Plaintiff, a Chieftain of Action Alliance(AA) had no locus standi to institute the action in that he is not a political appointee and thus had no interest that will be prejudiced by the provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

In SHEHU BALA &ANOR v. SALE HASSAN (2014) LPELR-23997 (CA) the Court of Appeal held ” Cases abound that the issue of locus standi is so fundamental that where a party to a suit lacks the standing to institute an action, the matter shall automatically come to an end because  the court shall be without jurisdiction and cannot be competent to procees further and consider the merit or otherwise of the action”.

Chief Nduka Edede clearly lacks any standing to challenge the Electoral Act and had all the proper and necessary parties be included in the suit, this point would have been canvassed strenously with merit. Added, to this, the filing of the matter in Umuahia, Abia State points to the condemnable practice of forum shopping when in fact the National Assembly that enacted the law, the President as represented by the Attorney General of the Federation are all domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory. See MR. ISAAC OGBONMWAN v. MR. J. O. AGHIMIEN (2016)LPELR-40806 (CA).

Another worrisome aspect of the judgement was that it even mandated the AGF to delete Section 84(12) from the Electoral Act thus vesting legislative powers on the executive.

In totality, the judgement was a predetermined, premeditated outcome of a grand design to protect the political interest of a few powerful political appointees who will probably want to seek other political offices in 2023 but yet, wants to hold on tenanciuosly to their present appointment.

It is a travesty and cannot nurture democratic ethos, norms and culture .

Dr Samson R. Osagie is a Private Legal Practitioner and Lecturer in Political Parties and Parliamentary Politics.

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