Civil Servants Can Participate In Politics – Constitution, Supreme Court, Lawyers
The argument against civil servants’ participation in politics is already invalidated by constitutional interpretation delivered by the Supreme Court in 2018, stakeholders and lawyers have clarified.
The clarification is coming against the background of alleged involvement of some civil servants in politics, an apparent attack from fellow contestants who are possibly afraid of the strengths and connections of such civil service personnel.
Previous reports have however copiously shown that the civil service regulation which barred civil servants from participating in politics is against constitutional right of this group of Nigerians as guarranteed by the constitution. The Supreme Court ruling has therefore nullified that public service regulations or any other regulations that purported to take away that constitutional rights.
A January 2018 Supreme Court judgement ruled that civil servants could be members of political parties of their choice as provided for in the 1999 Constitution. The Supreme Court ruling was part of its clarification of the November 8, 2002 judgement in which it nullified most of the guidelines issued by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on registration of new political associations.
“The constitution of the country is very clear about this. Only if you are contesting in a general election that you are mandated to resign from service 30 days to the general elections, that is all; and I can serve you with judgements upon judgements of the Supreme Court about this. Even the APC guidelines allow you to contest primaries and go back to your work,” a person affected by the development noted.
This issue came up for consideration in the Supreme Court case of the INDEPENDENT NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (INEC) and ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION VS BALARABE.