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Any legislation on appointment of vice presidential candidate void, lawyer says

By Silver Nwokoro
19 July 2022   |   3:55 am
A Lagos-based lawyer, Chris Okeke, has stated that any law that seeks to legislate on the appointment of a vice presidential candidate is null and void.

Barrister Chris Okeke

A Lagos-based lawyer, Chris Okeke, has stated that any law that seeks to legislate on the appointment of a vice presidential candidate is null and void.

Okeke argued that whereas the Electoral Act made provision for how the candidates are to emerge from political parties, the Constitution made provision for the emergence of a vice presidential candidate of a political party.

Recall that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had last week instituted a lawsuit compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to prevent the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, and the Labour Party standard bearer, Peter Obi, from replacing their running mates with Senator Kashim Shettima and Senator Datti Baba-Ahmed, respectively.

The party also asked the court to declare that Tinubu and Obi be disqualified unless they contest alongside their previous running mates, Kabiru Masari and Doyin Okupe.

According to Okeke, Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that a candidate for an election to the office of the President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated, unless he nominates another candidate as his associate.

“The clear meaning of this section is that the duty of nominating an associate is that of the Presidential candidate alone. He does not share it with the political party or any one else. Because he does not share this power, section 33 of the Electoral ACT does not apply.

“For ease of understanding, the section provides: ‘provided that in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate,” he said.

Okeke stressed that the Constitution clearly separates and elevates this function from those involving the political parties as envisaged in sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act.

He noted that candidates envisaged under sections 29 (1), 31 and 33 are all candidates except that of the vice presidential candidate, whose provision has been made for by section 142(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered).

He added that sections 29(1), 31 and 33 of the Electoral Act cannot override the clear provisions of section 142(1) of the Constitution, they rather co-exist, each keeping to its own lane.

He explained that sections 29(1), 31 and 33 are about candidates being produced from primaries of political parties and section 142(1) is about “an associate” nominated by the Presidential candidate.

This, he said, clearly removes the need and or requirement for a fresh primary election.