Election Sequence: Parties Know Fate April 25

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday reserved judgment in a suit challenging the powers of the National Assembly to pass laws affecting the sequence of the 2019 general election till April 25.
Justice Mohammed gave the date after counsel to parties in the suit adopted and argued their written addresses.
The plaintiff, Accord, had dragged the National Assembly, Attorney General of the Federation, (AGF) and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court, after President Mohammadu Buhari refused to assent to the amended electoral bill, 2018.
The party had expressed fears that the legislature with regards to its legislative powers can veto the President’s assent and pass the bill into law.
At the resumed hearing Monday, counsel to the plaintiff, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the court to answer in the affirmative questions raised in the plaintiff’s originating summons and grant all the reliefs sought.
Olanipekun, in arguing the plaintiff’s brief submitted that the order of election as proposed in the Election Amendment Bill, 2018 is virtually impossible and impracticable, when taken into consideration INEC’s powers to postpone election it is constitutional empowered to conduct.
Reacting to the notice of preliminary objection brought by the 1st defendant (National Assembly), challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit in the first instance, Olanipekun submitted that there is no model anywhere in the world that takes away the powers of the court from adjudicating on any matter.
He therefore urged the court to dismiss the preliminary objection raised by the 1st defendant and grant the reliefs sought by his client.
Responding, counsel to National Assembly, Joseph Daudu (SAN) informed the court of a notice of preliminary objection he filed on March 23 challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
Daudu said the court should first determine whether the originating summons in its entirety is justified.
According to him, issues of the internal affairs of political parties are not justiciable, including the internal workings of the National Assembly.
He also submitted that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain the suit, since what is been contested is a bill and not an Act, adding that until the bill is passed into law either by the assent of the President or a two-third majority of the legislature, the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the matter.
He said if the court is inclined to uphold his preliminary objection then there would be no need to continue with the plaintiff’s originating summons as it would amount to a waste of the court’s time.
The 1st respondent further urged the court to dismiss the suit on grounds that the plaintiff lacked the legal right to file the suit since, it failed to present its Certificate of Registration as a political party registered with INEC.
While urging the court to uphold his preliminary objection and dismiss the suit, he however urged the court to discountenanced the argument of the 2nd and 3rd defendants noting that though they are defendants in the suit but their position is supportive to the case of the plaintiff.
Responding, the 2nd defendant (Attorney General of the Federation) Abubakar Malami (SAN), aligned himself with the position of the plaintiff.
Responding to the issue of whether the court has jurisdiction to hear the matter, the AGF submitted that once a bill is passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly, the legislature has concluded its job and from that point the court has jurisdiction.
Similarly, counsel to the 3rd defendant (INEC) Femi Falana (SAN), who also aligned with the position of the plaintiff argued that whether the bill has been passed or still pending at the National Assembly does not stop the court from hearing the matter.
He also presented exhibits showing that the plaintiff is duly registered with INEC as a political party and as such has the legal right to file the suit.
Falana, like Malami therefore urged the court to resolved the matter in favour of the plaintiff and grant all the reliefs sought.
After listening to the submissioms of counsel, trail judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed then reserved judgment till April 25th.
In the Originating Summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/232/2018, the plaintiff raised 8 issues for determination by the court, including : Having regards to the combined provisions of sections 79,116,118,132,153,160(1) and 178 of the 1999 constitution as amended, the constitution read together with paragraph 15(a) of the third schedule to the same constitution, whether the 3rd defendant (Independent National Electoral Commission) is not the only institution or body constitutionally vested with the powers and vires to organized, undertake and supervised elections to the offices of the president, the vice president of the federal republic of Nigeria, the Governor and deputy governor of a state, the membership of the Senate, the House of Representatives and the House of Assembly of each state of the federation, including fixing the sequence and dates of the elections to the said offices?.

Author: News Editor

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