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Electoral Act 2022:The Dilemma Of Withdrawal Of Candidates-Abdu Fagge



Barrister Abdul Fagge



The Electoral Act, 2022 came into force on the 25th February, 2022 to regulate conduct of Political Parties activities, primaries election, and general Election among others. I commend the National assembly and President Federal Republic of Nigeria for passing and assenting same respectively. The Act provides certain innovations as well as new provisions which can only be clearly and perfectly understood through the instrumentality of Judicial pronouncements.
From 20th August, 2022, when the wind of rumor starts escalating for defection of distinguished Senator Ibrahim Shekarau from NNPP to PDP to the 29th August, 2022 when he formally defected and up to today the 1st of September, 2022, I received and I am still receiving phone calls from some Honourable Attorneys General, the legal practitioners, Excellencies, Right Honorable Members, members of National and State Assemblies, Key Stake Holders of different Political Parties, Politicians, Proprietors of some National dailies and general public seeking my opinion on whether NNPP and PDP can submit names of other candidates to INEC and upon such submission INEC is obliged to accept.
The above nagging question requires not Yes or No answer. In my candid opinion, the answer can only be proffered from x-raying Sections 29(1), 31, 32(1) and 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022 vis-a-vis Section 78 and paragraph 15 of the 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) and Section 28(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, Judicial authorities and other enabling laws.

Relevant Sections of the Electoral Act:

Section 28.—(1) The Commission shall, not later than 360 days before the day appointed for holding of an election under this Act, publish a notice in each State of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory —

(a) stating the date of the election; and
(b) appointing the place at which nomination papers are to be delivered.

Section 29.— (1) Every political party shall, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the Commission, in the prescribed Forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.

Section 31. A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.

Section 32(1): the commission shall, at least 150 days before the day of the election, publish by displaying or causing to be displayed at the relevant office or offices of the commission and on the commission’s web site, a statement of the full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated.

Section 33. A political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under section 29 of this Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate: 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 to the Commission for the election concerned.

Section 78. The registration of voters and the conduct of elections shall be subject to the direction and supervision of Independent National Electoral Commission.

From the above cited provisions, INEC has unfettered powers to issue guidelines, time table and schedule of activities for 2023 General Election, and it is on this premise it issued time table, schedule of its activities on the 26th day of February, 2022 to regulate all the political parties activities including last day for replacement of the withdrawn candidates.

2023:INEC Commences Distribution Of Over 77 Thousand PVC’S In Kano

Therefore, I am of the firm view that INEC time table, Guidelines and schedule of activities have same force with any enabling law and they run pari – pasu and all political parties are under obligation to comply with the said Time Table, Guidelines, and schedule of activities and it is in that regard all political parties sold their nomination forms, conducted primaries and forwarded the names of their candidates to INEC all within the stipulated period provided by the time table. The submission above is supported by the case of N.D.P. VS. I.N.E.C. (2012) 14 NWLR Part 1319 at page 176 particularly page 197 para D – F.
“The Time Table is Guideline with force of law; this is because any action taken outside the published time table is fatal to the political party involved. The activities and time schedule set out in the Time Table published are not directory”.

Based on the above decision and other relevant laws cited, it is beyond doubt that INEC Time Table is not an instruction or guide but a command which all Political parties must comply with.

Therefore it is an affront to the established principle of law for political parties to even contemplate substitution or replacement of their candidates after the expiration of the last day provided by INEC in its time table and schedule of activities for 2023 General Election and for INEC to accept such substitution or replacement.

The most amazing part of the Electoral Act which I find most interesting are Sections 31, 32(1) and 33 dealing with withdrawal of candidates, date of final display of candidates and changing candidates respectively. These three sections are key to the issue under discussion and it is against that background I devoted time to carefully and painstakingly read them, and in the end my understanding reveals that there is nowhere the “last day” is stated for replacement or changing of the withdrawn candidate. Section 31 squarely deals with notification of withdrawal to INEC while Section 33 pertains to conduct of Fresh primaries.

The sections of the law were reproduced at pages 1 and 2 for ease of reference.

While rubbing mind on these issues, Two very senior lawyers whom I respect much and are my mentors, principals and still working under them argued that the 90 days period for notification of withdrawal also applies to replacement, I told them that with respect, I’m imbued with contrary position, reason being that had the law makers intended that time to apply for replacement same should have been stated.

Secondly, I asked what if Notice of withdrawal is forwarded to INEC at the anniversary of the 90 days, which is still within the ambit of law for political parties to convey such letter of withdrawal to INEC, can the political parties still organize and conduct primaries to substitute candidate less than 90 days before the day of the general election, because section 31 states categorically that “Not later than 90 days the political parties shall convey such letter of withdrawal to INEC. This will as well give another room to argue that replacement or changing of candidates can be made less than 90 days before the date of the general election on the strength of submission of withdrawal letter at the anniversary of 90 days, because the party needs to arrange and conduct primaries thereafter then the window for replacement cannot be 90 days because section 33 empowered political parties to conduct fresh primaries within 14 days of the occurrence of the event.

It is apparent that drawing 14 days out of 90 days one can safely conclude that it will certainly be less than 90 days. It is a known fact in the entire Electoral Act, there is nowhere the “last day” for replacement of withdrawn candidate is stated.

Lastly, Section 32 (2) of the Electoral Act, 2022 mandates INEC to make final display of Names and Addresses of candidates of political parties at least 150 days before the date of General Election. It is therefore, my understanding that 90 days as contained in section 31 of the Act, cannot by all canon of interpretation be the last day for substitution or replacement of withdrawn candidate, reason being that it run contrary to the intendment of the legislature, and the whole essence of interpretation is to discover the meaning and intendment of the law makers taking the entire provisions in to consideration.

It is long settled principle of law that you cannot import into law that which is not stated. See the Supreme Court decision: in NDOMA EGBA V. CHUKWUOGOR (2004) 6 NWLR Part 869 page 382 particularly page 430 Paras F – H.

“……….There is no doubt that to use the common law principle of presumption of regularity to interpret entrenched constitutional right may be inappropriate. It is however erroneous to read into a clear and unambiguous constitutional provision what its does not embrace. The provision has to be interpreted strictly in accordance with the ordinary meaning of the word use without it being adorned, as it were, with ornamental words not therein to make it attractive to wider interpretation……..”

See also EBOIGBE V. N.N.P.C. (1994) 5 NWLR (Part 347) page 649.

Section 32(1) of the Electoral Act, 2022 mandates INEC to make final publication of full names and addresses of all candidates standing nominated at least 150 days before the election.

It is clear from the above provision that INEC is required to make final publication of candidates in its offices and its website at least 150 days to the election and it was against that background INEC made about two publications in their offices of 36 States, its Headquarters and in its website before the 15th July, 2022 and 12th August, 2022 respectively so as to allow political parties to change and substitute their candidates where necessary before the final day for replacement.

Had the drafters of the Electoral Act, 2022 intended 90 days to be the last day for substitution or replacement they would not have stated at least 150 days to be the last day of final display of names and addresses of candidates in section 32(1).

It is long settled principle of law that to appreciate and have a fuller meaning of the law the statute shall be given community reading rather than isolated reading.

On this principle of law See the Supreme Court Decision in BELLO V. A.G. OYO STATE 1986 5 NWLR part 45 page 828 particularly 832.

“…….. in construing the provisions of an enactment, although it is the particular section that is being considered that should be the primary concern, the whole enactment should be construed as a whole…..”

Flowing from the above, It is palpably wrong to hold the view that political parties can substitute or replace their candidates at least 90 days to the election placing reliance on section 31 of the Electoral Act, 2022.

I have read extensively the Electoral Act, 2022 particularly Section 29, 31, 32, 33 and 34 and I found no clear and unambiguous provisions relating to last day of substitution or replacement of political parties candidate(s) and having no clear and specific date the wordings of the statutes should be given their ordinary meaning.

On this principle of law see OGBEBOR V. DANJUMA (2003) 15 NWLR Part 843 page 403 particularly paras D–G.

“it is the duty of Court to interpret the word of the law makers as used.”

I therefore, have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that INEC has unfettered power to stipulate in its schedule of activities and Guidelines the last day for substitution/replacement of candidates as issued in its Time Table dated 26th day of February, 2022.

To sum it up I am of the firm view that INEC by section 78 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as altered and paragraph 15 of Third schedule to the said Constitution has unfettered power to issue Guidelines, Time Table and Schedule of Activities for 2023 General Election including stipulating last day for replacement or substitution of withdrawn candidate(s) of political parties.

It cannot be right to say that column 6 of INEC Time Table and schedule of Activities for 2023 General Election which fixes 15th July, 2022 as last day for replacement of Presidential and National Assembly Political Parties candidates and 12th of August, 2022 as last day for replacement of Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Political Parties candidates are in conflict with Electoral Act, 2022 or 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria as altered as there is nowhere the last day for replacement is specifically stated either in the Constitution or Electoral Act. Therefore, INEC by Section 78 and Paragraph 15 of 3rd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution of FRN has unfettered Power to organize and direct how the elections shall be conducted and it is on that strength INEC issued the said Time Table. See N.D.P VS. I.N.E.C supra.


I will now therefore, without much ado answer that the window for replacement or substitution of Political parties’ candidates is deemed closed since the 15th July, 2022 and 12th August, 2022 respectively.

It is therefore, my humble advise that the National Assembly whenever the need arise for making further amendment, the “Last Day” for substitution or replacement of candidate(s) by Political parties be clearly and specifically spelt out in the Act.

Most obliged.

Abdul Adamu Fagge Esq., ACArb.
(Head of Chambers)
(Member, Common Wealth Lawyers Association)
(Former Member National Executive Council Nigerian Bar Association),
(Former Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Kano Branch)


Emotional Farewell: Staff Bid Adieu to Departing Executive at FCTA




By Bala Ibrahim.

In Arabic, the name Najeeb means the Distinguished, the Noble or the Outstanding. The Arabic dictionary says if you’re seeking a name with inherent star power, Najeeb will make for a lovely fit. It is the masculine respelling of the Arabic favorite, Najib, which stands for the Distinguished.

Yesterday, Friday, 29/09/2023, I had reason to write on one of the 21 Chief Executives at the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCDA, that was relieved of his duty by Minister Nyesom Wike. As of the time of writing the article, I hadn’t any inkling about his name or the company he headed. Within minutes of the release of my article, responses came in torrents, giving the name, the agency he headed, his state of origin and an addendum, spelling out his personal qualities which people admire. These include honesty, generosity, courage and selflessness. His name was given as Najeeb, Najeeb Abdulsalam, whose sojourn as the Managing Director of the Abuja Urban Mass Transit Company, AUMTC, was cut short by the Minister of the FCT, barely three months on the saddle. I was made to understand that Najeeb came from Danbatta, in my native Kano state. In short, Najeeb Abdulsalam was described by many as a man of noble character. The encomiums were so encouraging that they gave me the justification for this follow up article.

For starters, I must make it very clear that the mission of the article is not in any way meant to support Najeeb for reasons of nepotism, not at all. I wrote without even knowing his name or where he came from. I was only touched by the show of uncommon support, solidarity and the sincere sentiments from those he led, alongside the testimonials of those that know him.

His staffers’ account gave the picture of an Officer and a Gentleman, with commitment to discharging correctly, the work he was assigned. Some of the staff that served under him were even volunteering to go with him, should the Government refuse to reverse the termination of his appointment. It is not surprising, because the name Najeeb is meant to go with a certain degree of nobility. Indeed I know some Najeebs, and truly all of them are noble and outstanding. One of the testimonies I received about Najeeb Abdulsalam is thus:

“I can proudly say that I was part of the overwhelming success he recorded during his 3 months+ long tenure at the agency. A friend and a business associate of mine financed the supply of spare parts and supervised the repairs of 37 number buses of the agency. The repairs are almost concluded with about 5 more buses to go out of the Lot. I managed the whole transaction on behalf of my friend. If merit was a yardstick for appointment into public office, Najib would have received a merit award instead of having himself unceremoniously sacked from office by the HMoFCT Bar. Nyesom Wike”.

Another one says: “Individuals like this should be fished out by the leadership of Government and celebrated to serve as an encouragement for others to perform well, Najeeb is highly disciplined and upright individual that I know, being a former Local Government Chairman twice”.

If the society sees traits like integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty and fortitude as the virtues of good behavior or character, then people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should be among the cardinals of the system. Three out of the 8 point agenda of President Tinubu are, Job creation, Adherence to the rule of law and the Fight against corruption. With people like Najeeb Abdulsalam at work, I see Asiwaju’s ambition as a fait accompli.

The Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited (AUMTCO), where Najeeb Abdulsalam was heading up till last week, was established by the then Ministry of Federal Capital Territory, which had a change of name to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in 1984, as Abuja Bus Service (ABS). It later mutated to Abuja Urban Mass Transport Company Limited, AUMTC. The ambition is to implement an environmentally friendly and sustainable Urban public transport system in the FCT, for effective, comfortable, safe, regular, efficient and affordable transport service delivery. The company has had a sizable turnover of chief executives, who served for years at various times, but according to insiders, non came near Najeeb Abdulsalam in performance. And he was only there for three months.

On his first day in office as the Minister of the FCT, Bars. Nyesom Wike promised to restore the national capital’s master plan by cleaning up the metropolis, instilling orderliness and ensuring infrastructural reforms, which were destroyed by decades of corruption, incompetence, carelessness and impunity. If the Minister is serious about matching words with action, people like Najeeb Abdulsalam should not be removed from the saddle.

Najeeb’s antecedents have given Kano state additional magnificence, especially when put alongside the recent story of Auwalu Salisu, the 22-year-old commercial tricycle operator in Kano, who returned the sum of N15 million, forgotten by a Chadian commuter in his tricycle.

The Minister of State in the FCT, Mariya Mahmoud Bunkure is an indigene of Kano. She must rise up to the challenge, by waking up to smell the coffee. The country needs people with integrity to manage it. And in Najeeb Abdulsalam, I see a glimpse of such noble-mindedness.

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Kano State Education In 100 Days-Muazzam



Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf

Let me begin by refreshing our memory with the popular saying of the African Independence Revolutionary Nelson Mandela who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” This is a clear testimony that any nation which wants to progress and have an independent life must make education its priority in governance.

This important reason is what led Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankaso’s Administration in the years 1999-2003 and 2011-2015 to introduce a primary school pupil feeding program, providing them with free uniforms, canceling school fees, introducing the payment of SSCE fees to Secondary School Students, establishing State Universities, and offering overseas scholarships to outstanding indigent students to study in different disciplines. Today, many of these students have recorded tremendous achievements and are contributing their best to the state, Nigeria, and overseas.

His Excellency Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf promised during his campaigns that he would continue from where his Leader Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso left off. Education was made a priority in his blueprint, being the first, second, and third agenda items. This was stated by H.E Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso several times and was reiterated in the RMK 2023 Blueprint, page 3: “Education is a public good, we shall ensure, through the correct reforms and investment, that all our schools provide the appropriate quality education to our citizens…”

The first assignment of Engr. Abba Kabir on education was in primary education. He conducted a special investigation on AGILE, a program that supports girls’ child education. He selected 19 LGAs for the program and disbursed the sum of N917 million to benefit 45,850 female students. Unfortunately, this World Bank-supported project didn’t receive the required attention and results until now. One may inquire from 23/6/2023, when the program was launched until today, about how many female children are enrolled in school, especially in rural communitiesThe results would be certainly amazing.

Secondary school students in Kano State are in joyful moments after the Executive Governor of Kano State paid their NECO fees. The previous APC administration had abandoned the examination fees of 55,000 students, but they turned a deaf ear towards the end of their administration. To save the students from this quagmire, the Kano State Government ordered the release of N1 billion to ensure they were eligible for the examination. It might interest you to know that 11 boarding schools were abandoned in the past administration, and N79,284,538 million was released for their renovation and reopening during the 5th State Executive Council.

On 23/8/2023, the Executive Governor of Kano State, Engr. Abba Kabir Yusuf, approved the payment of N700 million to 7000 Kano indigent students at Bayero University, Kano. He also approved the renovation of pedestrian bridges at Bayero University, Kano, Sa’adatu Rimi University, Kano, and Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies, Kano, which were abandoned since 2015. We have another great effort where 131 Kano indigent students have been approved to travel overseas for a Master’s Scholarship Program sponsored by the Kano State Government.

This is a clear indication that the Education Sector has been made a priority in the first 100 days under the Leadership of the NNPP in Kano State. During the past APC administration, releasing funds for the Education Sector to cater to its immediate needs was not easy. They were more inclined to demolish school structures to transform them into shops, plazas, event centers, or recreational facilities. This behavior drove donor agencies and organizations to neighboring states like Katsina and Jigawa State to fulfill their charitable gestures.

We have reason to thank the Almighty Allah for these wonderful and generous gestures. We believe and hope that the first year of H.E Abba Kabir Yusuf’s administration will bring back the lost glories in the education sector in Kano State, Northern Nigeria, and the country at large, In Shaa Allah (God willing).

Ibrahim Mu’azzam Senator SSA Public Affairs to the Kano State Governor

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In my piece of August 23rd, 2023 titled “Blackmail Against Judiciary and Threat to Kano’s Security”, I brought to the fore the position of Kano State Governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, owing to comments on Radio made by his Broadcast Media Aide, Abdullahi tanko Galadanchi. From those comments, the Governor counted on nothing to achieve victory, other than bribing the Honourable Judges of the Tribunal. This position was further affirmed by a leaked audio attributed to a Political Mobilization Aide for Kano South, who advised the Secretary to the State Government to ensure that all funds are channelled to procuring favourable judgement, even if to the detriment of the state, he emphasised. The Secretary to the State Government also, in his speech to mark 100 days of the government in office, attributed the administration’s failure to fulfil some of its promises to paucity of funds caused by enormous expenditure related to the proceedings of the Election Petition. Summarily, the administration has in its dwarfed wisdom, stylishly legitimised efforts to procure judgement through emotional blackmail, all of these came on the back of threats to lives of Tribunal Judges, and threats of making Kano a field of cultivation of lifeless bodies through anarchy and banditry.The administration of Abba Kabir Yusuf is indeed always clever by half; I predicted the ouster of some appointees that outwardly made heated, inciting or compromising statements, however in its narrow foresight, the government sacked only two out of numerous appointees that danced to an obviously authorised drum and song. We saw the Secretary to the State Government on video, accompanied by some Commissioners, threatening fire and brimstone, saying unambiguously in Hausa that “duk wanda ya taba mana zabe a Kano, sai dai uwarsa ta haifi wani”. This is the worst form of debasement that government has ever been brought to in the history of Kano State. The most senior appointed official of government threatening lives of Honourable Judges is indeed worrisome to every sane mind. Of course, tens of appointees followed suit thereafter, expressing intentions to wreck unprecedented havoc in the event of an unfavourable judgement, one after the other, we listened as they clawed at imaginary straws and have continued to sank even lower into abyss. In the case of self-acclaimed rufflers of feathers, Kperoogi and Naja’atu, it is funny that they missed the threats to lives of Honourable Judges and did not pay attention to government officials threats to make Kano worse than a banditry-torn Zamfara and Katsina; rather they only found their sense and logic in seeking a court to defend the indefensible and become father Christmas by granting Abba and NNPP that which they did not ask of the Court. Their illogical logic did not cause them to realise that APC in its petition raised numerous issues around non-compliance, and the NNPP even after its poor defence (due mainly to its complicity in the matter), failed to file any counter against the APC to cause us to have to defend the lawfulness of our votes. Yet, Kperoogi and Naja’atu believe that the court should have fed Abba & NNPP in their mouths, since Kwankwaso has made that a birth-right of theirs. In her comments, Naja’atu also exclaimed that if elections were to hold in Kano today, Abba would win by a landslide; this same woman not too long ago said the same of Atiku Abubakar, and we all recall how badly he was trounced in her home state of Kano.One would imagine that Kwankwaso, Abba & NNPP would have learnt a lesson or two from the irreparable damage the recent loss in court has caused them. Unfortunately, Abba through his mouthpiece, Bature, has come out to claim that the Honourable Judges might have been made to give judgement under duress. This speaks volumes of the failure of the Abba administration to see what is placed right before them, right in front of their noses. The Honourable Judges in their submissions have outrightly made clear the reasons why they chose to pronounce judgement via zoom, and it is the fault of none but those who demonstrated an uncultured, recalcitrant and violent tendency by threatening lives of judges and peace of the entire state, in the event of a loss. Let me do Abba and Bature a favour of asking them to read page 226 of the judgement, and frankly undertake an introspection exercise before engaging the public on such a matter again. Since I know you both may still be in slow recovery from the reality check dished by the Tribunal, I will assist you with some of the painfully piercing lines; “I use this opportunity to condemn the gang of Red Cap wearers… I am in no doubt that the security Agencies know and are aware of those who removed their eyes from their case and put it on the Judiciary. They are also aware of those who extended the threat further by declaring that THEY WILL KILL THE JUDGES. THIS THREAT MUST NOT BE SWEPT UNDE

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