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NASS Counters Buhari, Malami’s Suit Against Electoral Act At Supreme Court

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The National Assembly says the Supreme Court lacks jurisdiction to entertain a suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney- General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, challenging the amended Electoral Act 2022.

Jurisdiction is the scope of the power a court has to hear a particular case.

Messrs Buhari and Malami filed their suit at the Supreme Court, seeking an interpretation of the controversial clause in the Electoral Amendment Act 2022.

According to section 84 (12) of the legislation, “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.”

But, the parliament in a preliminary objection filed by its lawyer, Kayode Ajulo, said the “court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to hear and determine this suit.”

Laying grounds of objection to the suit, the respondent’s lawyer argued that the case was filed in “flagrant violation of Section 1(1)(A) of the Supreme Court Act.”

Mr Ajulo contended that the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court can only be invoked when “there is a dispute between the President and the National Assembly” and that dispute must involve “any question of law or fact on which the existence or extent of a legal right depends.”

Citing Section 232 of the constitution, the respondent further argued that the condition precedent for the activation of the apex court’s original jurisdiction has not been met by Messrs Buhari and Malami.

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“The suit as presently constituted neither discloses nor raises the existence of any dispute which may warrant the original jurisdiction of this court as mandated by provisions of the Supreme Court Act 2002,” the court documents revealed.

The lawyer drew the apex court’s attention to the signing of the Electoral bill into law by Mr Buhari in February 2022.

He said: “the 1st plaintiff (Mr Buhari) having conclusively discharged his duty under the constitution and as such there is no basis to attempt to undo that which he has done in exercise of his powers.”

“The original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court cannot be invoked to amend the provision of any law validly made by the National Assembly in the exercise of the legislative powers granted it by the constitution.”

The National Assembly also argued that section 58 of the constitution does not provide for a “conditional assent to a bill for an Act of the National Assembly.

“Assent once given signifies the acceptance of and concurrence of the presidency to the entirety of the bill to become an Act of the National Assembly.”

The court documents which were obtained from the apex court registry were filed on May 13.

While Mr Ajulo declined comments on the suit, the Supreme Court has fixed May 19, Thursday, for the hearing of the suit.

It will be recalled that Mr Buhari while signing the Electoral Bill into law, urged the National Assembly to delete the controversial Section 84 (12) of the law.

However, both chambers of the parliament rejected Mr Buhari’s admonition to expunge the clause.

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