National Assembly can’t dictate election sequence- Court

Chidi Samuel |

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday upheld the suit filed by Accord Party challenging the National Assembly’s re-ordering of the sequence of election which countered the time table released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The court ruled that the National Assembly could not amend the election timetable of INEC.

Both houses of the National Assembly had amended the Electoral Act bill had adopted a reordered sequence of the 2019 general election, putting the presidential election last.

President Muhammadu Buhari refused to assent to the bill and returned it to the National Assembly because it violated some provisions of the constitution, but the House of Representatives and Senate threatened to invoke its powers under section 58(5) of the 1999 constitution to override the president.

The proposed sequence of elections would have made the national assembly election come first, followed by governorship and state houses of assembly, and presidential.

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This is against the sequence rolled out by INEC, which put presidential and national assembly elections first and governorship and state assembly to follow.

Accord Party, through its counsel, Mr. Wole Olanipekun, its counsel, filed an application to stop the lawmakers from tampering with the electoral act.

In rejecting assent to the bill, President Buhari said, the amendment to the sequence of the elections in Section 25 of the Principal Act might infringe upon the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC.

He stated that the section guaranteed the INEC to organise, undertake and supervise all the elections as provided in Section 15 (a) of the Third Schedule to the Constitution.

”The amendment to Section 138 of the Principal Act to delete two crucial grounds upon which an election may be challenged by candidates, unduly limits rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process.

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“The amendment to section 152 (325) of the Principal Act may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections.

With NAN report