Friday Olokor and Victor Ayeni
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said political appointees who refuse to resign before contesting the forthcoming 2023 elections pose a risk to themselves and their parties.
Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, which was signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), provided that, “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.”
The implication of the provision is that political appointees who intend to be voting delegates or stand as aspirants for elective positions in a primary election shall, first of all, resign their appointments.
Ministers who are serving under the present regime who had declared their interest to contest in the 2023 elections without resigning included the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; and Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Gbajabiamila, in an interview on Channels TV monitored by The PUNCH on Thursday, noted that some political appointees were obstinate to resign before contesting in the election.
According to him, they run the risk of rendering the primary election null and void.
He said, “There are a number of people who have been mischievous. Some appointees have resigned their appointments to seek election, while there are some who remain obstinate, for want of a better word.
“Under the amended Act, there is a court decision pending that says there is no provision on this and during our conversation, we have said that the adjudication by the court should not be executed as of yet. Then there has also been an appeal by the National Assembly to set it aside.
“So invariably, it is a personal decision they have to make. Therefore the risk they run at the end of it all, if the court does find that the National Assembly was well within its rights to make such a provision that you are contesting an election while still a political appointee, then you are on a very serious risk of losing your election bid and not only that, you as a person also put the party you belong to at risk.”
Buhari asks court to dismiss PDP’s suit
Meanwhile, the President on Thursday asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to dismiss a suit filed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party on the contentious Section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act 2022.
Buhari stated this in a counter-affidavit filed by Oladipupo Okpeseyi (SAN) and deposed to by Abimbola Akintola, a legal practitioner.
He said he did not order the Senate to remove the contentious Section 84 (12) from the amended Electoral Act 2022.
Contrary to the claims of the PDP in a suit filed against him and 12 others on the Electoral Act, Buhari said he only expressed reservations and concerns in respect of the aspect of the Electoral Act.
Buhari and Malami averred that the claims of PDP in its suit against them on the Electoral Act were totally false and were aimed at misleading the court to give judgment against them.