A presidential aspirant, Julius Musa Lagware, has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the National Assembly (NASS) from proceeding with the proposed bill seeking to increase the minimum qualification for those aspiring to contest the presidential election and other offices.
In a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/ 222/2022, the Plaintiff listed as respondents in the fundamental rights enforcement suit the National Assembly, House of Representatives and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).
Filed on Friday by his lawyer, Pius Danba Pius, Lagware wants among others, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from taking any action on the proposed bill seeking to raise the educational qualification for anybody seeking to contest election the office of President, Governor, Senator and House of Representatives from school certificate to the degree certificate.
The plaintiff wants the court to declare that “the National Assembly lacks the power to enact a law that is likely or about to discriminate and/or disenfranchise the Applicant and all other persons with school certificate from participating in electoral process or contesting election for the office of President, Governor, Senator or Member of House of Representatives by requiring the Applicant to obtain degree certificate at his expense without provision of free tertiary education by the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
In the same vein, he also prayed the court to declare that “the action of the National Assembly via House of Representatives by proposed bill seeking to raise educational qualification to contest election to the office of President, Governor, Senator and House of Representatives from school certificate to degree certificate is against the constitutional principles of democracy, freedom, equality, justice and likely or about to violate the Applicant’s fundamental right to freedom from discrimination, right to association and right to equal participation in government of Nigeria.”
Lagware, an indigene of Nasarawa state, argued further that the bill is against the Nigeria constitutional principles of democracy, freedom, equality, justice, and is likely or about to violate his fundamental right from discrimination, right to association and right to equal participation in the government of Nigeria.
Citing the the provisions of the constitution, and order 11 Rule 3 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009, the applicant argued that he has the fundamental right to participate freely in the government of Nigeria.
The appellant, in a supporting affidavit, stated that having struggled to acquire his secondary certificate and desirous of further education, but held down by poverty, his inability to acquire a degree certificate should not constitute a bridge to violate his right to contest political office and aspire to lead the country.
He argued that the bill is self-seeking and targeted at denying the children of the poor the right to contest as most of them could not afford university education only to benefit children of the national assembly members who could afford it.
“The proposed bill seeking to raise educational qualification to contest election to the office of President, Governor, Senator and House of Representatives from school certificate to degree certificate is contrary to the constitutional principles of democracy, freedom, equality, justice.
“The proposed bill is likely or about to violate/contravene or take away my fundamental right to freedom from discrimination, right to association and right to equal participation in government of Nigeria.
“The propose bill is discriminatory against me as the National Assembly seek to disenfranchise me and all other persons without degree certificate and stop me from contesting election in my own country.
“University education is expensive and I cannot afford it as well as majority of other Nigerians who do not have degree certificate.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria does not provide free tertiary education and thus, myself and majority of Nigerians without degree certificate will be denied our fundamental right to participate in governance in Nigeria by contesting election to office of President, Governor, Senator and Member House of Representatives.
“I can read and write and I can effectively perform the functions of the office of President, Governor, Senator and Member House of Representatives without the need for degree certificate.
“The proposed bill is highly discriminatory and is made to prejudice me and other poor people who cannot afford university education in favour of the rich who can afford university education.
“All officers of the National Assembly are rich and they can afford university education for themselves and their children,” the applicant said.