Court stops NASS from overriding Buhari on Electoral Act

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Assembly to stop further action or proceeding on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which President Muhammadu Buhari rejected.

The restraining order was issued on Wednesday, by Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the High Court.

The ruling is a sequel to an oral application made in a suit filed by the Accord Party against the National Assembly, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

In the ruling, the court ordered the parties to “maintain status quo ante bellum”.

All the parties are ordered to stay every proceeding pending the determination of the motion on notice filed by the Accord party.

The Accord party had approached the court with a motion seeking an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 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 into Law, by two-thirds majority of its two chambers, pending the final determination of the substantive originating summon.

Counsel to the National Assembly, Mr. Chinelo Ogbozor, had resisted attempts made by Counsel to the Accord Party, Mr. Wole Olanipekun to move his motion on notice seeking a restraining order against the National Assembly on the grounds that the application was not ripe, and pending the service of hearing notice on the AGF.

Ogbozor said they were served barely 48 hours and insisted that the matter cannot proceed.

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.

Though the court noted that the motion on notice was not ripe for hearing, it, however, took notice of the oral application made by Olanipekun brought in line with Section 58(5) of Constitution.

Justice Mohammed stated that the court is not granting the prayer contained on the motion paper but “is making the preservative order to safeguard the integrity and sanctity of court.”

Consequently, the court directed parties to maintain status quo ante bellum at least to the next adjournment.

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

The Accord party is seeking among other reliefs “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 which attempts to interfere with or undermine the independence of the 3rd defendant, as guaranteed by the content, spirit and tenor of the Constitution.” (NAN)

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