Electoral Act Amendment: Court restrains National Assembly from vetoing Buhari

Posted by News Express | 15 March 2018 | 1,352 times

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Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Wednesday gave an order restraining the National Assembly from taking steps to pass into law the Electoral Amendment Bill, 2018.

Justice Mohammed who granted the preservative order specifically ordered the defendants to maintain status quo ante belum pending the next adjourned date fixed for Tuesday, March 20, 2018.

Justice Mohammed gave the order while delivering ruling on an oral application for preservative order brought by the plaintiff (Accord Party) seeking the court’s intervention on the matter.

The judge ruled that there was need to preserve the res of the matter.

“In view of the provisions of section 58, subsection 5 of the 1999 constitution which empowers the National Assembly to veto the president withholding of his assent by a two-third majority votes, the court is simply to preserve the rest in other to safeguard the integrity of the court and the sanctity of the judiciary under section 6 (6) of the 1999 constitution.

“The parties are therefore ordered to maintain status quo ante belum between now and the next adjourned date. Hearing notice are to be served on the second defendant who is absent in court,” he ruled.

In the motion filed pursuant to order 26, rules 1, 2 $ 3 and order 18, rule 1 of the Federal High Court, the plaintiff prayed for an interlocutory injunction restraining the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from assenting to the Electoral Act amendment bill, 2018 as passed by the first defendant, pending the final determination of the substantive originating summons.

Secondly the plaintiff had sought a further order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 1st defendant (National Assembly) from taking any further action or actions on the bill titled, Electoral Act amendment bill, 2018, particularly, to convene to pass the said bill by two-third majority of each of its two Chambers, pending the final determination of the substantive originating summons.

In the Originating Summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/232/2018, the plaintiff 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 organised, 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?

Considering 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 1st defendant (National Assembly) possesses the powers ans vires to propose any bill or pass any bill into an Act which directs or purport to direct, mandates, or purport to mandate, dictates or purport to dictate to the 3rd defendant to follow a particular sequence in the organisation and conduct of elections to the offices of President and vice president,  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?

Whether having regard to the exercise by the 3rd defendant of its powers and in furtherance of its function and duty to organise, undertake and supervise all elections to the offices of the

President and vice president, 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, as prescribed by sections 76(1), 116(1), 132(1), 153(1)(f) and 178(1) and sections 25 and 30 of the Electoral Act, 2010 and having come out with or announced a schedule or time table for 2019, general election, the 1st defendant can later make a law to re-order, or prescribed a schedule inconsistent with the schedule or order earlier on made by the 3rd defendant under legislation which were at the time of the exercise valid and extant?

Earlier in the day, the House of Representatives had confirmed that it had commenced the process to override the President Buhari’s veto on 10 legislative Bills which he had declined assent to.

Hon. Abdulrazaq Namdas, the Spokesman of the House, while addressing National Assembly Correspondents, also said the lower chamber had also resolved to agree with President Buhari on two out of three reasons given for withholding assent to the Electoral Act amendment Bill.

The President had on Tuesday transmitted to the National Assembly, giving three reasons why he would not sign the Bill for an Act to amend the Electoral Act of 2010.

According to Namdas, top on the list of Bills that the lawmakers would override the President’s veto is a Bill for an Act to establish Nigerian Peace Corps, which the President recently declined assent to, using paucity of funds and duplication of duties of existing security agencies, as excuse.

The Spokesman said, unlike the electoral act amendment Bill which shall undergo another passage and sent to the Presidency, the National Assembly would outrightly test its constitutional power on the Peace Corps Bill, which he said was a very popular Bill and topping the list of the Bills to override the President’s assent with.

Another Bill that the Spokesman said would receive the legislative action is a Bill for an Act to establish Chartered Institute of Treasury Management which was also rejected recently by the President.

He listed other Bills to include, a Bill for an Act to establish the Nigeria Council for Social Works, a Bill for an act to amend the currency conversion, freezing orders act to give discretionary powers to the judge of high court to order for forfeiture of assets of affected persons, and a bill for an act to establish the police procurement fund.

Others are a bill for an act to amend the environmental health officers council registration act, a bill for an act to establish the Chartered Institute of Loan and Risk Management of Nigeria, a bill for an act to establish the Chartered Institute of Public Management of Nigeria.

Also included are a bill for an act to establish the Chartered Institute of Exports and Community Brokers of Nigeria and a bill for an act to establish the Federal University, Wukari.

Regarding the bill on the amendment of the electoral act which Buhari also rejected, Namdas said the lawmakers will areas of the bill the president disagree with and re-introduce it for passage.

His words: “We will regazette the electoral act and expunge the areas which the president mentioned and which we are in agreement with the president and in line with the constitution.

“We will then bring it back for debate and re-transmit it to the president for assent.”

Namdas said the Reps agreed with the President on the amendment of section 138 of the Principal Act which has to do with grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates.

He said the lawmakers also agreed to the observation by the President that the amendments to section 152(3)-(5) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

He, however, said the House disagreed with the President on the amendment to the sequence of elections as contained in section 25 of the Principal Act.

He said though the Independent National Electoral Commission ( INEC ) has the powers to regulate the sequence of elections, but it could do so based on the electoral act which was a document birthed by the Parliament.

“If the Parliament had no powers to amend the Electoral Act, why did it pass it in the first place? Is the Electoral Act of 2010 not a Child of the National Assembly?” Namdas asked rhetorically.

•By Mayowa Okekale, with additional reports by PRNigeria.

 


Source: News Express

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