Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party, (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka, Eze has restated that the palpable gloom of apprehension which engulfed the camps of the opposition People’s Democratic Party and other individuals and groups opposed to the Presidential project of the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, led to the inclusion of the controversial section 84(12) during the amendment process of the Electoral Act.
Chief Eze stated this in reaction to the ruling of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, which described the
section of the new Electoral Law as unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
The said section 84(12) provides thus: “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.”
In a statement made available to media houses in Abuja, Chief Eze said though the Court in its wisdom struck out the suit marked: FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, which was filed before the Umuahia court, It is however gladdening to note that the Three Man Panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja on 11th May while delivering judgment on the appeal marked: CA/OW/87/2022 filed by the PDP, accepted the fact that Section 84(12) as being pushed by the party is illegal and inconsistent with provisions of the constitution.
The three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the high court, from whence the suit emanated acted without jurisdiction in the first place.
The Court, while determining the appeal on the merit, held that Section 84(12) is grossly unconstitutional and inconsistent with Section 42 (1)(a) of the Constitution and denied a class of Nigerian citizens their right to participate in election.
The appeal followed the judgement of the High Court in Umuahia, which in March, struck down 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.
Eze highlighted that the blunt refusal of the National Assembly to amend the offensive section of the new law, even after the President and other enlightened Nigerians pointed out to them that the section is an attempt to deny a group of Nigerians from participating in the 2023 general elections, could be construed to mean a scheme to achieving some mischievous ends which amongst others is to fight the Nigerian project viz the Presidential aspiration of the Transportation Minister, Chibuike Amaechi.
“It is unfortunate that the National Assembly, against history, went ahead to refuse to heed to the appeal of Mr. President and some patriotic Nigerians that the section is illegal and must be amended accordingly, just because the National Assembly and those urging them on this evil mission are afraid of the candidature of Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and a few others”, Eze stated.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had before assenting to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2022, expressed his reservations with that portion of the electoral law, which he described as discriminatory.
The party Chief however commended the red chambers for the amendment of Section 84(8) of the Amended Electoral Act 2022 failed to provide for the participation of statutory delegates in conventions, congresses or meetings of political parties held to nominate candidates for general elections.
The move was sequel to a bill sponsored by the Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), as the upper chamber said the unintended error committed by the omission must be corrected before the start of party primaries next week.
Eze said it would have been more beneficial if the speed the Lawmakers are exhibiting to amend section 84(8) was also deployed to ratify the error in (12) but commended the Court for doing the needful.
Statutory delegates to congresses and conventions of political parties are elected councillors in all the over 8,000 wards across the country, elected chairmen and vice chairmen of the 774 local councils, elected members of state Houses of Assembly, elected federal lawmakers in the National Assembly, and governors of the 36 states and their deputies.
Others include the President and Vice President of the country and executives of political parties at the state and federal levels as well as chairmen of parties at the local government level.
Eze appealed to Nigerians particularly those in dire need of a visionary and result oriented leader like Amaechi to win the 2023 general elections to continue to pray for good to prevail over evil in Nigeria.