Court stops National Assembly from re-ordering election bill

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THE Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, March 14, ordered the National Assembly to stop taking any further actions on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which seeks to provide the order in which the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, must conduct the 2019 general elections.

Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the restraining order which will last until March 20, which is the next hearing date.

Mohammed delivered the ruling based on an oral application by Wole Olanipekun, SAN, counsel to Accord Party, the plaintiff in the case. The judge said that the restraining order was made to preserve the substance of the main suit.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Tuesday, March 12, informed the National Assembly that he had withheld his assent to the bill which was earlier passed by both chambers of the National Assembly.

There have been threats by some legislators that the National Assembly would evoke its powers under Section 58(5) of the Constitution to override the President’s withholding of assent by two-thirds majority votes of both chambers.

However, Olanipekun in his oral submission asked for a “preservative order,” which was opposed by Chinelo Ogbozor, the counsel representing the National Assembly, at the court proceedings.

The Attorney-General of the Federation, the second defendant to the suit, was not represented by a counsel.

However, The INEC, the third respondent, was represented by Taminu Inuwa, its lawyer, who raised no objection to the application.

Ruling, the judge held that the National Assembly was not likely to suffer any prejudice if it was restrained from going ahead with the amendment processes before the next hearing date.

He added that on the other hand, if no restraining order was issued and the National Assembly went ahead to exercise its powers under Section 58(5) of the Constitution by overriding the President’s withholding of assent, the essence of the whole suit would have been defeated.

Mohammed, therefore, ordered all parties to maintain the “status quo.”

He fixed ‎Tuesday, March 20, for the hearing of the motion for the interlocutory injunction, the same order which was granted during the Wednesday’s proceedings but would likely last till the final determination of the suit if the application succeeds.

The Accord Party is, by its suit, challenging the constitutionality of the ‎ongoing amendment of the Electoral Act.

– Mar. 14, 2018 @ 17:29 GMT |

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