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Nigerian appelate court voids judgement on Section 84(12) of Electoral Act

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A Court of Appeal in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Wednesday, voided an earlier judgement by a Federal High Court that nullified a controversial section in the country’s Electoral Act 2022 which bars political appointees from seeking elective office or voting as delegates in party primaries unless they resign from their positions.

The contentious section of the Electoral Act, Section 84(12), stipulates 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.”

The Wednesday ruling by the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal set aside an earlier judgment on
March 18 by Justice Evelyn Anyadike of a Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State in South-East Nigeria, which voided the provision of Section 8412) of the Electoral Act.

The appellate court in a judgment by a three-member panel headed by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka, held that the Umuahia division of the federal court had no jurisdiction to have entertained the case instituted by a plaintiff, Nduka Edede, arguing that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to have filed the suit in the first place.

The Appeal Court added that Edede did not establish any cause of action to have warranted his approaching the court on the issue because he did not establish that he was directly affected by the provision.

In delivering its judgment, the three-member panel of the appellate court headed by Justice Hamma Barka, held that the Umuahia court lacked jurisdiction to have adjudicated on the suit.

Nigeria’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had brought an ex-parte application before a Federal High Court in Abuja challenging a directive given to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the section of the Electoral Act.

The PDP had sought an order of the court restraining the National Assembly from effecting President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to remove section 84 (12) from the Electoral Act.

The PDP had challenged the legality or otherwise of the National Assembly tinkering with the Electoral Act, after it had been signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Following the application, Justice Iyang Ekwo of the federal high court on March 7, had given a ruling restraining the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and the Senate President Ahmad Lawan from tampering with the 2022 Electoral Act which was signed into law early in the year.

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Weeks after justices protest, Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Tanko Muhammad resigns

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Nigeria’s Chief Justice, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned.

Sources confirmed that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Hint of potential crises in Nigeria’s judiciary played out last week when fourteen Justices of the Supreme Court wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Tanko Muhammad, lamenting the parlous state of affairs in the court.

The petition is the first-of-its-kind in the 58-year history of the apex court, the justices chronicled the operational challenges that have almost crippled the efficient adjudication of cases at the court.

Arrangements are said to be ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 suspended Justice Tanko’s predecessor Chief Justice, Walter Onnoghen, 15 days after allegations of impropriety were lodged against the most senior judge in the country. It was the first time that Nigeria’s head of state had sacked a chief justice since 1975, when the country was under military rule.

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18 years after suspension, Zimbabwe lobbys for readmission into Commonwealth

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Southern African Zimbabwe has continued with lobbying for readmission 18 years after it was thrown out of the body over allegations of human rights abuses.

The country made its latest move to be readmitted at the ongoing Commonwealth summit in Rwanda.

Zimbabwe’s ambassador to Rwanda Charity Manyeruke, who is attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali as an observer alongside other top government officials, told newsmen that the country’s participation at the summit was a “positive development.”

“Zimbabwe is excited to be participating in Commonwealth forums as this presents opportunities to network with the international community taking into account the government of Zimbabwe’s policy of engagement and reengagement,” Ms Manyeruke said.

“The Commonwealth meeting in Kigali has provided opportunities for our Zimbabwean diaspora across the globe, who are participating as panellists, facilitators and as delegates in the forums.

Zimbabwe was first suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year, after international observers condemned disputed presidential election as unfairly tilted toward Robert Mugabe in 2022.

One year after the suspension, Mr Mugabe revealed that he did not accept a Commonwealth decision to prolong Zimbabwe’s suspension from the group until the country mended its ways.

“Accordingly, Zimbabwe has withdrawn its membership from the Commonwealth with immediate effect,” said a government statement.

Zimbabwe’s Foreign Affairs deputy minister David Musabayana said he had held meetings with influential people to discuss the country’s potential readmission.

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