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Nigeria lawmakers reject President Buhari’s appeal to amend Electoral Act, insist appointees must resign to contest

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The upper chamber of Nigeria’s bicameral legislature, the Senate on Wednesday rejected President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to amend the provision that makes it mandatory for political appointees who want to run for office in 2023 to resign in the recently signed Electoral Act, 2022.

President Buhari had, in a letter to the National Assembly last week, asked the federal lawmakers to amend the Act, by deleting Section 84 (12), which, according to him, constitutes a “defect” that is in conflict with extant Constitutional provisions.

Earlier on Monday, The Federal High Court sitting in Nigeria’s capital city – Abuja, restrained its National Assembly from tampering with the newly amended Electoral Act 2022 following a motion ex-parte that was brought before the court by the opposition – Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The court, in the ruling that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, specifically barred all the Defendants in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/247/2022, from removing section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act or preventing it from being implemented for the purpose of the 2023 general elections.

President Buhari has several political appointees currently in different Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government who will be affected by the amended law when signed into law. Specifically, in the eye of the discourse is Nigeria’s Attorney General, Mr. Abubakar Malami who by implication is an appointee and legal adviser to the President and widely believed to be interested in contesting for the seat the governor of Kebbi state.

Other political appointees include 43 ministers, special advisers, senior special assistants, special assistants and heads of government agencies holding sensitive positions that make it difficult for open declaration of their ambitions.

Some of these political appointees are currently being touted as contenders for presidential, governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives seats ahead of the 2023 general elections.

Politics

ECOWAS folds, lifts economic, travel sanctions on junta-led Niger, others

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Economic sanctions on Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso were lifted with immediate effect by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Saturday.

This came after the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government held an unprecedented meeting at the State House in Abuja, where they deliberated for hours on the political, peace, and security situation in the region.

Mali and its bordering junta-run nations, Niger and Burkina Faso, abruptly announced last month that they were abandoning ECOWAS, the largest political and economic union in West Africa, reversing decades of regional integration.

The ECOWAS Commission President, Dr. Omar Touray, announced the Authority’s resolutions and stated that it has halted the closing of the air and land border with Niger, creating a no-fly zone for any commercial aircraft.

Additionally, it has halted the unfreezing of all of Niger’s assets at EBID and the freezing of any financial transactions involving the central bank of the ECOWAS states and Niger.

Additionally, it removed the restriction on military junta members’ and their families’ travel. “Based on humanitarian considerations due to lent and the approaching month of Ramadan,” according to Touray, the decision was made.

Sanctions against Mali citizens being elected to ECOWAS positions were also lifted by the authority. Along with the lifting of sanctions against Guinea, all four nations were extended an invitation to future ECOWAS technical consultative meetings.

Additionally, ECOWAS requested that the member states that were withdrawing reevaluate their choice in light of the advantages their citizens had received.

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Senegalese opposition condemns President Sall’s ‘slow’ election date announcement

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The opposition presidential contenders in Senegal have claimed that the government is taking too long to announce a new date for the poll, following a court ruling that declared a 10-month postponement to be illegal.

This occurs just a few days after President Macky Sall pledged to comply with the Constitutional Council’s position that the election be held as soon as feasible following the parliament’s resolution to reschedule the election—which was initially set for February 25—was overruled by the court.

The situation in one of the more stable democracies in coup-hit West Africa led to violent public protests and threats of authoritarian overreach, and Sall came under intense pressure both domestically and internationally to accept the council’s decision.

However, no new date has been announced, which has angered opposition candidates who want the election to happen before Sall’s term expires on April 2.

In a joint statement released late on Tuesday, sixteen out of the nineteen presidential candidates bemoaned the “inexplicable slowness” with which the council’s decision was implemented.

It was their contention that Sall’s tardy return to electoral duty demonstrated his reluctance to initiate a process that would result in a transfer of power. A request for response from the presidency was not answered.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Justice Minister Aïssata Tall Sall said that there was room for discussion over the expiration of Sall’s mandate on April 2.

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