The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Federal Government (FG) and the National Assembly (NASS) to go back and reconcile their differences in the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation over NASS’ constitutional amendments and return to court with their report of settlement within forty-eight hours.
It would be recalled that President Goodluck Jonathan had withheld his assent to the NASS amendments to some sections of the 1999 Constitution and instituted a suit against the lawmakers at the Supreme Court seeking to annul the amendments.
At the apex court’s sitting on Monday, the court directed the parties to go back and meet to reconcile and harmonise their respective positions in the suit within twenty-four hours and return to court on May 27 with their report of settlement.
The Court said that the issues in contention were very simple and could be reconciled by the parties without the court’s intervention.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who presided over the proceedings, issued the ultimatum following an application by Mr Bayo Ojo (SAN), counsel to the Federal Government.
Ojo had in the application sought to amend the originating summons which he filed on behalf of the Attorney-General of the Federation by seeking to substitute the AGF with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the plaintiff.
Mr Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), counsel to the NASS, opposed the application on the ground that it was “incurably defective.’’
Awomolo argued that the proper party in the suit was the President of Nigeria, who was not before the court and, therefore, urged the court to strike out the suit.
Responding to Awomolo’s submission, Ojo argued that his application, dated May 20, and brought to court on Monday (today) was to cure the inherent defectiveness of his originating summons.
The CJN, however, disagreed with Ojo, saying that even if the AGF was replaced with the President, the originating process would still be defective since the supporting affidavit was not sworn to by the president.
He advised Ojo to withdraw the originating summons and come back with a fresh suit.
Ojo withdrew the originating summons and it was struck out accordingly by the court.
However, Awomolo’s refusal to give a written undertaking on behalf of the National Assembly on the maintenance of status quo ante as earlier ordered by the court on May 7, made the court to direct the parties to go back and reconcile and report their out-of-court settlement on Wednesday.
It would also be recalled that the Supreme Court which on May 7 fixed June 18 for hearing of the matter last week suddenly reversed the hearing date to May 25, today.
This decision was informed by an application filed by Awomolo seeking relisting of the case before the expiration of the current National Assembly.
He had urged the court to discharge its order of interlocutory injunction made on May 7th, 2015, for the maintenance of status by parties and restraining the NASS from overriding the president’s veto of the amendments.
Awomolo had argued that the AGF was not competent to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under the Supreme Court Additional Jurisdiction Act.
He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the originating summons filed by the AGF.
Awomolo further argued that the National Assembly was inaugurated on June 6th, 2011 for a four-year term, which would terminate on June 6th 2015, and the case would have been overtaken by events.
He, therefore, prayed the court to expeditiously hear and determine the suit during the 7th Assembly’s lifespan, in the interest of justice and the good people of Nigeria.
He also urged the court to dismiss the originating summons filed by the AGF.