Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has come under intense criticism for encouraging Political appointees to disobey the amended Electoral Acts that was duly passed into law
A Professor of Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Bala Suleiman said Malami and others who are holding political appointments but refused to resign should be disqualified during the screening of candidates.
In a statement signed by the erudite scholar and made available to newsmen on Sunday, Suleiman expressed regrets over the attitude of Malami whom he said “was breaking the law instead of protecting it”
Part of the statement reads, “The expected responsibility of Malami as the Attorney General of the Federation should be to see that the administration of public affairs is in accordance with the law.
“Rather than the above, Malami has become not only a supporter of breakers of the law but a breaker himself.
“It was hoped that the provisions of the 2022 Electoral Act will be judiciously implemented to enable Nigerians to enjoy the exercise of their political franchise before and after the 2023 general elections.
“ I understand that Malami intends to run for Governor of Kebbi state but the right thing he should have done is to respect the law by tendering his resignation. Rather he encouraged other appointees not to resign citing the judgment of a lower court on the matter. If he could rely on the judgment of a High Court, he should as well obey the judgment of the Court of Appeal. “ Prof Suleiman said
Noting in his statement, he said, “I encourage all political parties to stand on the path of the law by not fielding any political appointee who refused to abide by the law. Any party that ignores section 84(12) of the Electoral Act is doing so to its detriment because they will lose fortunes in the end.
Lambasting Malami for adopting the judgement of Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court Umuahia and ignoring that of a higher court, Suleiman said that at Malami’s position
“he should have known better that such judgement will not stand legal scrutiny anywhere. The judgement confused the persons who are political appointees as used in Section 84 (12) of the New Electoral Act and persons who are employed in the public service of the federation or of any state as used in Section 66 (1) f, 107 (1)9, and 182 (1)g.
“If the judge had painstakingly studied the plethora of cases that had been decided which clearly distinguished between public officers or persons employed in the public service of the federation or any state from political appointees who do not enjoy some permanency in their jobs or appointment, she would have arrived at a different verdict”. He said
It will be recalled that Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act bars serving political office holders, including commissioners, ministers and special advisers, from participating as delegates of the primaries in their respective parties or as candidates for any election. It further prescribes a reprimand in Section 84 (13) as a consequence for the disobedience of the Act, thus, “Where a political party fails to comply with the provision of this Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in the issue.”
Against the judgment delivered by Justice Evelyn Anyadike of Federal High Court Umuahia, The Court of Appeal has ordered the Attorney-General of the Federation and others to suspend the execution of the judgement of the Federal High Court which struck down section 84 (12) of the newly amended Electoral Act.
Malami had shortly after the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, delivered the judgement on March 22, foreclosed possible appeals by vowing to promptly enforce the verdict
But the Owerri Division of the Court of Appeal has now issued an order putting the execution of the High Court’s decision on hold