Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday nullified the National Assembly Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which ought to provide the order in which Independent National Electoral Commission must conduct the 2019 general elections
Delivering judgment in a suit filed by Accord Party to challenge the bill, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the bill was in clear breach of the provisions of paragraph 15(a) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution which empowers INEC to organise and conduct elections.
The judge also ruled that INEC has issued its timetable for the 2019 general elections, the later passage of the bill to reverse the electoral body’s decision was in breach of sections 4, 5 an 6 of the Constitution.
The court ruled that the powers conferred on INEC to conduct elections comprised the powers to decide the sequence of the elections and fix dates for the elections and such powers could never be taken away by an Act of the National Assembly.
The court resolved all the issues formulated in favour of the plaintiff and against the National Assembly.
It also granted all prayers sought by the plaintiff except one which ought to compel President Muhammadu Buhari from assenting to the bill.
Justice Mohammed ruled on Wednesday that it was no longer necessary to grant such prayers since the President had refused to give his assent to the bill.
Earlier, the court dismissed the National Assembly’s notice of preliminary objection praying for the dismissal of the case.
It anchored the prayer for the dismissal of the suit on the grounds that the suit was not jusiticiable, that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to initiate the suit, that the suit was an academic exercise and that the failure to join the President as a necessary party in the suit had rendered it incompetent.
But ruling, the judge dismissed all the grounds of the objection.
The parties to the suit are the National Assembly, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission.