The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, worked behind the scenes to obtain a court order from Umuahia, Abia State, which ordered the deletion of Section 84 (12) of the Amended Electoral Act, SaharaReporters has learnt.
SaharaReporters gathered that Malami worked with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who are all nursing political ambitions ahead of the 2023 general elections, to obtain a court order that would keep them in office even if they join politics.
It is like having their cake and eating it too.
SaharaReporters earlier today reported that the court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, ordered the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to immediately delete Section 84 (12) of the Amended New Electoral Act.
The court in a judgment delivered by Justice Evelyn Anyadike on Friday held that the section was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and cannot stand as it violates the clear provisions of the Constitution.
In the suit marked FHC/UM/CS/26/2022, Justice Anyadike held that Sections 66(1)(f), 107(1)(f), 137(1)(f) and 182(1)(f) of the 1999 Constitution already stipulated that appointees of government seeking to contest elections were only to resign at least 30 days to the date of the election and that any other law that mandated such appointees to resign or leave the office at any time before that was unconstitutional, invalid, illegal null and void to the extent of its inconsistency to the clear provisions of the Constitution.
While signing the Electoral Bill into law last month, President Buhari had asked the National Assembly to delete section 84 (12), which restricts sitting cabinet members from contesting for elective offices without resigning.
For instance, with the provisions of the act, political appointees such as Amaechi, Minister of Transportation; Malami, Minister of Justice; Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment; Emeka Nwajiuba, Minister of State for Education; Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Niger Delta Affairs; Timipre Sylva, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, among others who have been reportedly linked to presidential and governorship ambitions must resign from their various offices if they want to contest in 2023.
Malami is interested in becoming Kebbi governor; Nwajiuba is being projected by the Project Nigeria Group (PNG) for the presidency; Ngige says he is consulting on running for president; Akpabio has received the backing of the Godswill Akpabio Uncommon Transformational Support Organisation (GAUTSO) to also return to the poll; while the Southern Mandate Group and Chibuike Amaechi Crusaders 2023 want the transportation minister to succeed Buhari.
However, top sources revealed to SaharaReporters on Friday night that Malami was the brains behind the court order obtained from Abia State.
“The Attorney-General is behind the court ruling in Abia State. He received funds from Amaechi and CBN governor to fund the litigation and find the judge to do so as Abuja Federal Court judges refused to touch the case,” one of the sources said.
“The AGF (Malami) was being asked to resign as of last week. He, Amaechi and CBN governor were scared,” another source revealed.
Meanwhile on Friday, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, in the AGF office said the AGF would give effect to the purported judgment without delay.
“The office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice will accordingly give effect to the Court judgment in line with the dictates of the law and the spirit of the judgment.
“The judgment of the Court will be recognized by the Government printers in printing the Electoral Act. The Act will be gazetted factoring the effect of the judgment into consideration and deleting the constitutionally offensive provision accordingly.
“The provision of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is not part of our law and will be so treated accordingly. This is in line with the dictates of chapter 7, Part 4, Section 287 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) on enforcement of decisions that make it a point of duty and obligation on all authorities and persons to have the judgment of the Federal High Court, among others, to be enforced,” the AGF office said.
On Wednesday, Malami had said following the Senate’s refusal, the Nigerian government would consider all other options available to it before a position would be taken.
It is clear one of the options Malami and others found was a judge to do their bidding.