Not-Too-Young-To-Run may be “Dead on Arrival” – JS Okutepa SAN

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Senior Advocate of Nigeria  Jibrin Sam Okutepa has expressed his concern over the success of the Not-Too-Young-To-Run Bill signed into law yesterday by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.

Expressing his doubt, Mr. Okutepa SAN said the only way the law would achieve its desired aim is for the Nation’s grand norm to be amended

The law seeks a reduction in the age limit for presidential candidates from 40 to 35, as well as state governors and senators from 35 to 30. Following the President’s assent, the minimum age for national and state assembly members will now be 25.”

“The primary aim of this law is to increase the participation of young people in politics, as more than half of the nation’s population is below age 30. Good as this law is, it will suffer constitutional defeat unless the constitution of Nigeria is amended.”

“A close look at the constitution will show that a person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if –
(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth; 
(b) he has attained the age of forty years; 
(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and 
(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent. See S.131 of the 1999 constitution as amended. Then

S.65. (1) of the same constitution provides that: subject to the provisions of section 66 of this Constitution, a person shall be qualified for 
election as a member of: 

(a) the Senate, if he is a citizen of Nigeria and 
has attained the age of 35 years; and 
(b) the House of Representatives, if he is a 
citizen of Nigeria and has attained the age of 30 
years; 
(2) A person shall be qualified for election under subsection (1) of this section if: 
(a) he has been educated up to at least School 
Certificate level or its equivalent; and 
(b) he is a member of a political party and is 
sponsored by that party. Clearly for the law signed by the President to be effective and not to be declared null and void, the NASS needs to amend the constitution. I therefore see nothing to celebrate in the law signed by the President today.

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