Amaechi, Ngige, Others Risk Disqualification Over Failure To Resign
Amaechi, Ngige, Others Risk Disqualification Over Failure To Resign: Two of President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees who expressed interest in running for president in 2023 but refused to quit in violation of Section 84 (12) of the Constitution may be disqualified.
According to a Punch story, this is the case. The ruling All Progressives Congress, according to the article, would not risk being disqualified by fielding such political appointees.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and his counterpart for Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who joined the race on Tuesday last week, are among the political appointees who have expressed interest in contesting the president on the APC platform.
According to reports, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), was considering running for the party’s governorship ticket in Kebbi State, while other serving ambassadors are reportedly considering running for office.
Section 84 (12) of the new Electoral Act mandates all political appointees seeking elective office to resign ahead of any party primary they plan to participate in.
The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had, while signing the electoral bill on February 25, expressed reservations over Section 84(12) and asked the National Assembly to delete it.
He subsequently wrote to the National Assembly requesting the amendment. The President’s request was, however, rejected.
A lawyer, Nduka Edede, who is a member of the Action Alliance, approached a Federal High Court in Umuahia seeking a declaration that the provision was illegal.
Justice Evelyn Anyadike subsequently ruled that the section was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever” and asked Malami to delete the section.
The AGF was the only respondent to the suit, while the National Assembly and others were not joined. However, Malami agreed with the plaintiff that the provision was illegal.
The National Assembly and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party had however appealed the judgment.
Both the PDP and the National Assembly had been granted permission to join as a person interested in an appeal against the High Court judgment which voided and struck out Section 84 (12).
The appeal filed by the PDP at the Owerri Division of the Court of Appeal had been slated for hearing on May 4.
A top member of the APC National Working Committee, who confided in one of our correspondents on Monday, said two options were open to the party.
According to him, the ruling party is awaiting the judgment of the Court of Appeal and even the Supreme Court on the controversial clause.
He stated, “If the court upholds Section 84, the affected minister will be disqualified. But if the court deletes the section, they can contest without resigning. However, my advice to them is to resign, if they don’t want to be disqualified.”
Another party leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated, “What the party is doing is this: they are waiting for the court to make a pronouncement on the pending case regarding the resignation of present political office holders seeking elective office in 2023 before acting.
“The Court of Appeal is expected to rule on the matter next month. If the court says they can retain their present positions and contest an elective post in 2023, then the party will allow them, but should the court ask them to resign, then they will have to resign. If the court has not delivered its judgment before the primaries, we will disqualify the ministers if they fail to resign,” the source concluded.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, had a few weeks ago said the party would ensure that all political appointees in the APC wishing to contest the 2023 elections complied with Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act.
He stated, “The position of the party is consistent with the Electoral Act. We are allowing our affected members who may have the intention of contesting the primaries to comply with the Electoral Act as provided.
“The party will simply follow the Electoral Act. Any member of the party who is in an appointive position, we will expect such an individual to resign before our primaries. We are hopeful that they will comply at the right time and we are going to ensure that anyone seeking our ticket will not breach the Electoral Act.”
When contacted on Monday, the APC spokesman said, “My position is out there, I’m not speaking on the subject again.”
When asked if his party would sell forms to the aspirants who have yet to resign, the APC spokesman said, “I’m not able to take those questions.”
When contacted, an aide of Amaechi, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the minister still had time. “The minister still has time. The convention holds on May 30,” he said.
An aide of Ngige, when contacted, referred The PUNCH to what the minister said a few weeks ago. Ngige, in an interview on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme monitored by The PUNCH on April 21, said he would not resign.
Asked if he had any fears about the controversial Section 84 of the Electoral Act, the former Anambra State governor said, “The (1999) constitution is the grundnorm, it is the biggest and heaviest of all the laws in Nigeria. And for you to be president, Section 137 has given you areas of qualifications and areas of disqualifications.”
“That constitution says you do so (resign) one month to election, for public officers. The issue now is that is a minister a public servant? Yes. Go to Section 5, you will see me listed there; ministers, commissioners, governors, Vice-President, President, and heads of ministerial bodies.
“They listed all of us and gave certain things we should not do; you cannot take two jobs, you can’t; you can’t do business or trade, that area says you can only do farming as a public officer.”
TrendsOfLegends Media Comments/Views/Opinions:
The Law will always be the law as well, no man is above the law. If the law says this is what should be done, it needs to strictly adhere to irrespective of who is involved.