Raphael Ede, Enugu
A Federal High Court in Enugu has fixed Tuesday, May 8 for hearings on the substantive suit filed by a leader of the APC, Anike Nwoga, seeking to stop the National Assembly from changing the sequence of the 2019 General Elections, earlier adopted and published by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Presiding Judge A.M. Liman fixed date for the hearing after listening to the submissions made by some of the parties in the suit.
Although the National Assembly, the 1st defendant, failed to appear in court during proceedings, the other defendants – Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney General of the Federation (2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants, respectively) – made appearances.
Addressing the court, the plaintiff’s counsel, Mr Godwin Onwusi, brought to the attention of the court that the National Assembly, listed in the suit as the 1st defendant, has not appeared in court, even as they have been served all the court processes.
Onwusi also urged the court to allow them to do away with their application for interlocutory injunction and go ahead with the substantive matter because of the urgency.
After hearing the submissions of the plaintiff’s counsel and the other parties present, Justice Liman adjourned to May 8, 2018 for the argument on the originating summons.
Liman said that if the case is argued on the scheduled date, he may give his judgment by next Friday.
Among the reliefs the plaintiff, Nwoga, sought from the court is the determination of “Whether the National Assembly, in exercise of its lawmaking powers, can make laws to compel INEC to exercise the powers to organize, undertake and supervise elections conferred on it by the constitution in a particular sequence.”
Nwoga, who is the Vice Chairman of APC in Enugu East senatorial zone, is also asking the court to determine “Whether the National Assembly, in exercise of her law making powers, can make a law to change the sequence of elections, already adopted and published by INEC, pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the constitution.”
Upon the determination of the questions, the plaintiff urged the court to make the following orders:
“A declaration that the National Assembly cannot make laws to compel Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to exercise the powers conferred on it by the constitution to conduct election in a particular order.
“A declaration that the recent bill adopted by the two chambers of the National Assembly, which altered the sequence of the 2019 elections, already adopted and published by INEC pursuant to the powers conferred on it by the constitution, is a usurpation of the constitutional powers of INEC, hence unconstitutional.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd defendant from assenting to the bill changing the sequence of elections, already adopted and published by the 2nd defendant, when it is presented to him for assent.
“An order restraining the 2nd defendant from complying with the sequence contained in the bill or the Law, if assented to by the 2nd respondent.
“Any further or other orders or consequential Orders that the Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of the case.