The Supreme Court has reversed from June 18 to May 25, hearing on the suit filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) against the National Assembly seeking to nullify the lawmakers’ amendments to the 1999 Constitution.
The apex court earlier on May 7 fixed June 18 for hearing following an ex-parte application filed by Mr Bayo Ojo (SAN), the counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Ojo had claimed that the suit filed on behalf of the government was brought pursuant to Order 3 Rule 14 of the Supreme Court Rules, as amended, and was directed to come and address the court on that day.
The sudden decision to reverse the hearing date was informed by an application filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), NASS counsel, 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, restraining the NASS from overriding the president’s veto of the amendments.
Awomolo 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.
“The originating summons dated 22nd April 2015 is incompetent, fundamentally and incurably defective and thereby robs the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction.
“There is no known or reasonable cause of action disclosed in the orginating summons to grant jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
“The originating summons filed by the plaintiff is an improper and or reckless invocation of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,” he submitted.
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.
It would be recalled that the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, who presided at the mentioning of the suit, had ordered parties to maintain status quo until determination of the suit.
He had adjourned the suit to June 18, when a new government would have come on board and the legislative session of the present NASS would have ended.
AGF’s counsel, Ojo, had in the originating summons claimed that the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 was not passed with the mandatory requirement of four-fifths majority of NASS, as stipulated by the constitution.
He urged the court to make an order nullifying and setting aside Sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the amendments passed by NASS.
He, therefore, urged the court to, in the interest of justice, grant all prayers sought because most of the provisions of the purported Fourth Alteration Act 2015 were contrary to public policy and good governance.
President Jonathan had declined to assent to the amendments after the National Assembly forwarded the document relating to the said amendments to him and instead wrote back to NASS, giving his reasons for not appending his signature to the amendments.
The NASS, in turn, threatened to override the President’s veto after 30 days as constitutionally provided.
Subsequently, the President, in a smart move that took the lawmakers by storm, instituted the suit through the AGF, against NASS.
A copy of the new hearing notice to the FG, which was obtained by our correspondent, reads in part: “Take notice that the above motion will be listed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Monday 25th day of May 2015.
“And further take notice that in accordance with Order 2 Rule 1(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1985, as amended, this notice is deemed sufficiently served on you.
“If it is left at your address for service or sent by registered post and since the date of service by post is material, Section 26 of the Interpretation Act, shall apply,” it said.