A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday handed down an order restraining President Muhammad Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and the Senate President from tampering with Electoral Act 2022.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling on an ex-parte application brought before the court by the opposition People’s Democratic Party, said the electoral act, having become a valid law, could not be amended without following the due process of law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, in a letter to the National Assembly last week, requested the federal lawmakers to amend the act, by deleting Section 84 (12), which, according to him, constituted a “defect” which conflicts with extant constitutional provisions.
The section bars political appointees from contesting elections.
In a swift reaction, Ahmad Lawan, President of the Nigerian Senate, had, during the Senate sitting on Tuesday, said that the court ruling violated the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) on separation of powers. Lawan noted that the legislature has exclusive powers to make laws, and that no arm of government could stop the other from carrying out its responsibilities.
Senator Gabriel Suswam (PDP, Benue) also faulted the ruling of the Federal Court. Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while citing Order 52(5) of the Senate Standing Order, urged the Senate to abide by the court ruling. He advised the National Assembly to discharge the court order.
Lawan said, “My opinion about anarchy is when either arm of government decides to go into the exclusive preserve of the other.”
At the House of Representatives, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila read President Buhari’s letter on the request to amend the Electoral Act.
However, Herman Hembe (APC, Benue) reminded the Speaker, that there is a subsisting court order regarding the removal of the section in the Electoral Act.
Responding, the Speaker said: “You are talking about the court process that was served on us? Yes, I am aware of it; that there is a court process on an injunction.
“I am still obligated to read the letter, the communication from Mr President on the floor. Your point is well noted.”