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Section 84(12): Falana accuses Malami of manipulating court to issue conflicting orders

  Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has accused Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), of manipulating th...

 


Femi Falana, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has accused Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), of manipulating the federal high court to issue conflicting orders on the validity of section 84(12) of the Electoral Act, 2022.

 

The section provides 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.”

 

Recall that a federal high court in Abuja restrained the national assembly from taking any further step regarding section 84 (12).

 

But last week, a federal high court in Umuahia, Abia state, ordered the attorney-general of the federation to delete the section from the amended electoral act.

 

Malami had, thereafter, said the federal government was taking the necessary steps towards deleting the section.

 

Reacting to Malami’s statement, Falana said a group of lawyers recently filed two cases at the federal high court on the constitutional validity of the section after another division of the same court had granted an interim order on the same provision.

 

Falana said aside from the suit filed in Abia, a similar one titled ‘FHC/IB/CS/32/2022: Chief Oyewole Bolanle v attorney-general of the federation’ was filed at the Ibadan judicial division of the federal high court but the case was struck out by the judge.

 

The senior lawyer said Malami, who is the defendant in both cases, did not draw the attention of the Ibadan and Umuahia judicial divisions of the federal high court to the fact that the Abuja division of the same court had, on March 7, 2022, restrained the AGF, President Muhammadu Buhari, national assembly and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from “refusing to implement” the provisions of the section.

 

He also said Malami failed to disclose to the Umuahia judicial division of the federal high court that the Ibadan division had struck out a similar case for want of locus standi.

 

“In any case, since the case pending at the Ibadan judicial division of the federal high court was well reported in the print and electronic media, the judge sitting in the Umuahia judicial division ought to have struck out the fresh case before her as it constituted a gross abuse of court process,” Falana said.

 

“It is pertinent to note that while the attorney-general of the federation pretended not to know about the order of interim injunction granted by the Abuja judicial division of the federal high court, he has announced the plan of the federal government to comply with the judgment delivered in the Umuahia case as soon as possible.”

 

According to Falana, if Malami goes ahead to delete section 84(12), he would be liable to contempt of court as the Abuja division of the federal high court has restrained him and other defendants from enforcing the provision “pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction”.

 

“We submit, without any fear of contradiction, that unless the valid and subsisting order of the Abuja judicial division of the federal high court is set aside either by the trial judge or an appellate court, the attorney-general of the federation cannot delete section 84(12) of the Electoral Act,” he said.

 

“It is trite that the attorney-general cannot choose and pick the orders of court to obey or disobey, more so, when it is undoubtedly clear that the attorney-general deliberately set out to manipulate the federal high court to issue conflicting orders in a desperate move to annul section 84(12) of the Electoral Act.

 

“No doubt, this is the first time in the entire history of Nigeria that the office of the attorney-general of the federation has engaged in forum shopping for favourable orders of the the federal high court or any other court.

 

 “It is high time the dangerous manipulation of the federal high court was stopped as the nation prepares for the 2023 general election.”

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