Court Restrains National Assembly from Vetoing Buhari on Electoral-Reordering Bill

CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

When the matter commenced yesterday, counsel to the plaintiff (Accord Party), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), urged the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, to issue a "preservative order" that would restrain the National Assembly from taking any step that would jeopardise the res (subject matter) of the suit that is already pending before the court for determination.

The correspondence to Senate read in part, "Pursuant to Section 58 (4) of Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), I hereby convey to the Senate, my decision on (3rd March, 2018) to decline presidential assent to the Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2018 recently passed by the National Assembly".

"However, we're in disagreement with the president over his first reason, which states that sequence of election in Section 25 of the principal Act may infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organize, undertake and supervise all elections provided in Section 15 (a) to the third schedule of the constitution".

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

After a presidential veto, the House of Representatives has resolved to rework the Bill on reordering of elections and re-present it to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

Justice Mohammed adjourned the case till Tuesday next week.

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The Attorney General of the Federation, the 2nd defendant to the suit, was not represented by a counsel.

President Buhari, at various times, either rejected the bills or did not communicate his decision to the House after the stipulated 30 days.

The judge, however, stated that no time frame had been stipulated within which the National Assembly should convene and form two third majority to pass the law.

The plaintiff is claiming "a declaration that the legislative powers vested in the national assembly by the constitution do not empower or imbue it with the right, liberty or authority to pass or purport to pass any bill into Law".

Chinelo Ogbozor, counsel to the national assembly, had opposed the Olanipekun's appeal but to no avail.

The matter has been adjourned to March 20 for the hearing of the motion on notice filed by the plaintiff.

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