ELECTION SEQUENCE RE-ORDERING | Court Cannot Stop Us – National Assembly

by on March 16, 2018

The Senate has declared that the Federal High Court order stopping the National Assembly from taking further action on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2018 was not binding on the Legislature.

The Upper House hinged its position on the well-acclaimed doctrine of separation of powers and its primary constitutional duties of lawmaking, which no court can remove it.

It resolved to write the chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) on the overbearing influence of the court.

The resolution of the Senate was based on the adoption of a “Point of Order” raised by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio.

Relying on Order 45, Akpabio urged the Senate to write to the CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen to intimate him of the development in addition to reminding him of the principle of separation of powers.

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The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Wednesday restrained the National Assembly from further action on the amendment of the Electoral Act pending the determination of a suit filed before it by Accord Party.

Prior to the court order, President Muhammadu Buhari withheld his assent to the bill, which altered the sequence of the 2019 general elections.

The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, ordered all the parties to maintain status quo antebellum, “at least between now and the next adjourned date”.

But Akbabio, who faulted the court, said that the issue had to do with due process and separation of powers.

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He said: “I have perused the constitution and I think I cannot see anywhere that the court has the power to stop the proceedings of the Senate. If this is allowed, it therefore means that in future the court can stop the National Assembly from appropriating and the country will have no budget for that year.”

The Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawan said that amending the Electoral Act does not require the court’s intervention.

In his remark, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, reiterated the need for every arm of government to function in accordance with the principle of separation of powers.

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“The issue is clear and the principle is clear; what is important is building democracy and building our institutions. We will come and go, but the institutions will remain, so it is imperative that everybody must work towards sustaining the institutions.

“We will express our concern to the Chief Justice of Nigeria,’’ Saraki said.

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