Section 84(12) of Electoral Act 2022 meant to check mischief in Nigeria’s electoral system – Pepe, SAN

March 22, 2022

2.4 min readCategories: News

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Douglas Pepe has said the contentious Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2020 was meant to check mischief in Nigeria’s electoral system and take democracy back to the people.

The legal luminary who spoke to Vanguard in Makurdi while reaction to ruling of an Umuahia Federal High Court which nullified the section and asked the Attorney General of the Federation to delete it from the Act said, it was also intended to check the muzzling of democracy at the political party primaries’ level.

He said Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act provided 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 nomination of candidates for any election.’

“But political office holders argued that this amounted to a violation of their right to freedom of association, that they have the right to contest for office. And that the section effectively took away their power to contest election; and they challenged the provision.

“The court upheld their contention; but historically and even statutorily there is precedence of the view that a person holding a government office should resign his or her appointment within a particular period before contesting an election or before the date of an election.

In my view that provision is not discriminatory because it is aimed at addressing a particular mischief. You have a situation where political office holders end up serving as delegates in political party primaries and they become the majority of the delegates.


“The elected delegates that are provided for under the party constitution become the minority. And because of this at the end of the day you find that democracy is being muzzled particularly at party primaries.


“When you get to the party primaries because majority of the delegates are appointees of government they end up doing the wishes of the people in power other than what the common man who elected their delegates want.


“By so doing they are taking democracy away from the people. That is what that section seeks to address. That provision sought to bring democracy back to the grassroots by ensuring that the issue of delegates to the convention or congresses is in the hands of the common people in the villages.


“So as far as I am concerned it was not an unconstitutional provision, it was a provision that was intended to deepen democracy in Nigeria. And for those who say it is unconstitutional, nothing stops you from contesting an election but if you want to contest you resign your appointment and contest you primary election.

“That provision was not discriminatory at all. It was meant to supplement or complement other exiting previous of the constitution including those ones that were relied upon by the court to nullify that very provision.”

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