Rivers state’s application to be joined as a defendant in the suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) seeking to void section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, has been approved by the Supreme Court.
The President and AGF has in the lawsuit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, claimed that section 84(12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.
However at the hearing of the suit on Thursday May 19, Rivers state government asked to join as a co-defendant as they will be affected by outcome of the judgement.
Emmanuel Ukala, counsel representing Rivers state attorney-general and speaker of the state, who raised his application for joinder, said;
“That any decision rendered by this honourable court in respect of the subject matter of this suit will certainly affect the legal rights of the Rivers state house of assembly and impinge upon its legislative powers to make laws in addition to but not inconsistent with section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 enacted by the national assembly and applicable in Rivers state and will affect the scope of its authority to make laws as conferred on it by Section 7 and item E. 12 of the Concurrent Legislative List of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).
“That the Applicants/Parties Seeking to be joined have a full and complete defence to the claim on the merits of the originating summons and a copy of the proposed defence by way of counter affidavit and written address in opposition to the originating summons of the plaintiffs is tendered herewith, referred to as and marked exhibit A.
“That unless the applicants are joined to this suit as defendants, they may not be able to assert their said rights and protect their interest in the subject matter of this suit and which said rights and interests may be adversely affected by any decision that may be given in this case.
“That the plaintiffs/respondents and the defendant/respondent will not be prejudiced in any way by the grant of this application.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) initially opposed the application, but changed his mind upon realising it could delay the hearing of the substantive suit.
The Court ordered parties to file and exchange all necessary processes on or before Wednesday next week and adjourned till Thursday for hearing.
Lawyer to the Rivers AG and Speaker (now the 2nd and 3rd defendants) Emmanuel Ukala (SAN) said his clients believed they needed to be made parties in the case because they would be affected one way or the other by the outcome.