Appeal Court reserves judgement on Senate’s powers to amend election sequence

Nigerian Senate
The Chamber of the Nigerian Senate

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal on Thursday reserved judgement in a suit seeking to clarify the powers of the National Assembly to alter the sequence of the 2019 general elections in Nigeria.

A five-member panel of the court presided by the Appeal Court President, Zainab Bulkachuwa, adjourned the matter after taking arguments from counsels.

The request was brought before the appellate court after the Federal High Court ordered the National Assembly to refrain from proceeding with its threat to override President Muhammadu Buhari on the proposed alteration of the election sequence.

The Accord Party had earlier approached the Federal High Court where a decision was given in April against the position canvassed by the Senate.

The court ruled that the constitution empowers only the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to determine the time table for elections in the country.

After President Muhammadu Buhari refused to sign the bill which contained the amendments to the election sequence, the National Assembly initially threatened to override the president’s veto.

That threat was later abandoned by the lawmakers.

Despite temporarily sheathing their sword, the lawmakers were dissatisfied. Thus, the National Assembly through its lawyer, Joseph Daudu, approached the Court of Appeal, stressing that the entire process of election follows the provisions of electoral acts as approved by the National Assembly.

Mr Daudu argued that the proposal to amend the act is a constitutional responsibility of the Senate which should not be terminated unless by the decision of the National Assembly.

According to Mr Daudu, the act can only be objected to after it has been made a law and not during the process already begun by the Senate.

But counsel to the Accord Party, Wole Olanipekun, asked the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that the National Assembly has allegedly dropped the controversial Section 25 earlier introduced to effect the alteration of the sequence.

The Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, also asked the court to disregard the appeal describing it as an academic exercise.

After hearing from counsel, the court adjourned to rule on the matter at an unspecified date.

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