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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Nigeria’s Minister of Justice kicks against new electoral bill

Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami has counseled President Mohammadu Buhari not to sign the new electoral bill into law, saying the inclusion of mandatory direct primaries in the Electoral Act amendment bill could lead to confusion within political parties.

The Minister was said to have told the president in a letter that making direct primaries mandatory for all political parties could cause confusion.

A source in the ministry said, “The AGF has sent his advice on the Electoral Act amendment bill to the President.  He has highlighted the problems of the bill.

“The AGF, however, did not quote any section of the law that makes it illegal which is unlike the previous letters he writes to the President,” Punch reported on Friday.

He explained that the AGF was worried that forcing all parties to adopt the direct mode of primary would mean that all existing parties would have to change their constitutions.

“The office of the AGF sent its position two weeks ago. They raised a number of issues. For instance, if you are asking political parties to run direct primaries, from a strictly legal point of view that would mean that only new political parties will be bound by the law.

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“Existing political parties will not, because they have registered their parties, they have filed their constitution long time ago on the basis of what is contained there. And most of it is a mixture, if you check the parties, direct and indirect primaries are stated.

“So, are you going to change their constitutions for them? So, this is the legal opinion. But this is just one. There are several other legal positions which favours and disfavours the bill because, as the Minister of Justice, his duty is to tell the president the pros and the cons. It is now up to the President to decide on which way to go.”

The Governors elected under the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) had increased pressure on the president not to assent to the bill because of their opposition to the mandatory direct primaries imposed in the bill by the National Assembly.

The Special Adviser to the President, Femi Adesina, had confirmed last week that the President was seeking the advice of the AGF on the electoral bill.

Adesina said there are certain decisions the President will not make without the input of the AGF.

Responding to a question, he said, “There are certain things that never get done without the counsel of the attorney-general. You can be sure of that. And this falls right within the purview of the attorney-general. So you can be sure that every bit of the way, the attorney-general will be carried along.”

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