Court Stops NASS From Taking Further Action On Electoral Act Amendment Bill

Sheri Evans
March 15, 2018

Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a ruling yesterday ordered all the parties to maintain the status quo until Tuesday when the case will be heard in court.

This was made known at the House plenary session on Wednesday after Buhari declined to assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act forwarded to him by the National Assembly (NASS).

The Accord Party, in a suit which has the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as respondents before the court, wants the court to determine whether INEC is not the only institution constitutionally vested with the powers to organise, undertake and supervise elections, including fixing the sequence of elections to various elective offices in the country.

"We will re-gazette 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".

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 President's withholding of assent, the essence of the whole suit would have been defeated.

The House of Representatives says it will override President Muhammadu Buhari's veto on the recently rejected Peace Corps Bill.

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He had further stated that the amendment to Section 152 (325) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over local government elections.

Meanwhile, a professor of law at the Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Uli in Enugu state has said that Buhari's decision to withhold assent to the Electoral Act as amended by the National Assembly is in order.

Wole Olanipekun, counsel to the party, had prayed the court for a "preservative order".

However, counsel to the 1st defendant, Chinelu Ogbazor, argued that the motion was not ripe for hearing, going by the rules of the court that requires a time frame of 48 hours after service before it can be heard.

In view of Ogbozor's opposition, Olanipekun urged the court for Ogbozor to make an undertaking that the National Assembly would not take any action on the subject matter but she refused.

The matter was adjourned till March 20.

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