​Court refuses to compel National Assembly to pass PIB

Senate chamber

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday struck out an ex-parte application seeking an order of mandamus to compel the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill.

Justice Ibrahim Buba struck out the application filed by a lawyer, Okiogbero Edhebru, for lacking in merit.

Mr. Edhebru, in the application, asked the court for “a judicial review of the applicant’s right to wit: an order of mandamus compelling the National Assembly, their agents and privies to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill as enshrined in the Constitution.”

He sought a declaration that the failure, neglect, refusal or omission of the National Assembly to pass the PIB, had denied him and other Nigerians access to investment.

“This had led to unemployment and slow economic growth

​,​” he argued.
According to Mr. Edhebru, the failure of the National Assembly to pass the PIB has occasioned the violation of the rights of Nigerian citizens, which, he said, the court is duty-bound to protect.

The applicant, in his five-paragraph affidavit backing the ex-parte application, maintained that the National Assembly would not suffer if it was compelled to pass the PIB.

Mr. Edhebru added, “On the other hand, the applicant and the entire Nigerian economy will benefit in terms of more investment resulting to employment for Nigerians.

“But if not passed, it will result to suffering and continued injustice against the applicant and other Nigerians.”

At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the trial judge challenged the applicant’s rationale in filing the application in Lagos rather than in Abuja.

The judge equally held that the request of the applicant was tantamount to asking him to go too far in the exercise of his power.

​Mr. ​Buba held, “the court is not a robot in granting leave and granting of leave is not a mere formality or automatic. The court must be certain that the leave is deserving.

“In the instant case, I am to grant leave with a view to getting an order of mandamus to compel the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill. That, in my view, is asking the court to go too far.

“I am pretty sure that this court understands the motive behind the principle of separation of powers as enshrined in the Constitution.

“I am certain that no court will compel the National Assembly to pass laws.”

He adjudged the application as lacking in merit and consequently struck it out.



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