Senators will today debate a Federal High Court (FHC) judgment that voided Section 84(12) of the new Electoral Act.
The decision followed a motion by Senator George Sekibo challenging the judgment. and what he considered as the destruction of “our work for over one year.”
Sekibo, who demanded that the debate be commenced immediately, was particularly peeved that the Senate, as the maker of the law, was not a party to the suit that led to the verdict by the FHC in Umuahia, Abia State.
Justice Evelyn Anyadike held in the judgment that Section 84(12) of the Act was “unconstitutional, invalid, illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever and ought to be struck down as it cannot stand when it is in violation of the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution.”
Anyadike consequently ordered the Attorney General of the Federation to “forthwith delete Subsection 12 from the body of the Electoral Act.”
In the motion, Sekibo relied on Order 42 of the Senate Standing Order on Personal Explanation, to challenge the judgment.
He cited Section 4 of the Constitution (as amended) which empowers the National Assembly to make laws for peace, order and good governance.
According to him, Section 228 lists such functions to include making laws to ensure internal democracy within political parties.
The lawmaker argued further that Section 318 of the Constitution clearly defines who a public servant is, without including political appointees.
His words: “I don’t have anything against the Judge, but Mr President, what is relied on in the judgment is not in tandem with the interpretation of the Constitution.
The Constitution defines for us who is a civil servant and who is a public servant. It does not include political appointees.
“More so, Section 4 gives us the power to make good laws, and in our mind, any law we make here is good law.
“Section 228 gives us also the power to make certain laws to guide the Independent National Electoral Commission to effectively discharge its functions.
“We felt that Section 84(12) as enshrined in the Electoral Act assented to, is for the interest of the people and country.
“I don’t think that somebody should go to court without joining the Senate or the House of Representatives where this law emanated from, because we are the origin of the law before the President assented to it.
“If you think it is faulty, you either take us to court and make us part of that case. We did not know, we were not told and they just went there and got a judgment, destroying our work for over one year as no one here has the head to do any good thing.”
There was however a mild drama after Senator Chukwuka Utazi seconded Sekibo’s motion when the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege, who presided over plenary, said the debate should be deferred to another legislative day.
Omo-Agege noted that moving the debate to today would enable more Senators to make their contribution and also enjoy the presence of Senate President Ahmad Lawan.
At this point, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu supported the position of the Deputy Senate President on the need to defer the debate.
However, after a brief argument, Omo-Agege put the question for a motion to be brought to the floor today.
The voice vote received the overwhelming support of lawmakers for the motion to be considered.
Omo-Agege explained that his decision for the motion to be considered today was to allow Senators absent during yesterday’s plenary to make their contributions when the matter is taken up by the chamber.