President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday rejected Section 84 (12) of the newly signed Electoral Act which required political office holders to resign their appointments at least three months before election.
In his address during the signing of the document at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the President said the section was at variance with the provision of the 1999 Constitution which requires political office holders to resign their appointments at least 30 days before the election.
He urged the Nationally Assembly to consider immediate amendments that would bring the bill in tune with the constitution by deleting the contentious section.
There were insinuations that the contentious provision in the Act requiring ministers and other political appointees to resign their appointments three months before parties’ primaries, if they were contesting, delayed the signing of the bill by the President.
Buhari said: “Section 84 (12) constitutes a disenfranchisement of serving political office holders from voting or being voted for at Conventions or Congresses of any political party, for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election in cases where it holds earlier than 30 days to the National Election. The section provides as follows:-
‘No political appointee at any level shall be 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.’
“This provision has introduced qualification and disqualification criteria that ultra vires the Constitution by way of importing blanket restriction and disqualification to serving political office holders of which they are constitutionally accorded protection.
“The practical application of section 84(12) of the Electoral Bill, 2022 will, if assented to, by operation of law, subject serving political office holders to inhibitions and restrictions referred to under section 40 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“It is imperative to note that the only constitutional expectation placed on serving political office holders that qualify, by extension as public officers within the context of the constitution is resignation, withdrawal or retirement at least 30 days before the date of the election.
“Arising from the foregoing, with particular regards to the benefits of the Bill, industry, time, resources and energy committed in its passage, I hereby assent to the Bill and request the Nationally Assembly to consider immediate amendments that will bring the Bill in tune with constitutionality by way of deleting section 84(12) accordingly.”