- Appeal Court has set aside the decision of the Federal High Court on the National Assembly over election sequence
- The court quashed the judgment of the lower court which prohibited the National Assembly from vetoing the president’s powers in assenting to the electoral act
- Presiding judge, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, said the decision of the trial court in entertaining the suit amounted to a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers
The Court of Appeal has restored the powers of the National Assembly to make laws in the order in which election are to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
This Day reports that the appellate court, in a judgment delivered Wednesday, August 1, in an appeal by the National Assembly, quashed the judgment of the Federal High Court which prohibited the Assembly from vetoing the president’s powers in assenting to the Electoral Act (amendment) Bill, 2018.
NAIJ.com gathered that in the unanimous judgment delivered by the president of the Court, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, the five-member panel of the court held that the case of the Accord Party (AP), which led to the judgment of the high court, was premature at the time it was filed.
According to the judgment, the decision of the trial court in entertaining the suit amounted to a breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.
The court consequently nullified the judgment of the lower court.
The court stated that the suit of the Accord Party on the legality of the powers of the National Assembly on election reordering was an academic exercise because the party has no legal right to do so in the first instance.
Specifically, the court of appeal president said that the Accord Party failed to establish how its rights and obligations were adversely affected by the election reordering bill other than that of the general interest.
The Appeal court further stated that a bill has no legal effect to expose it to being challenged on the basis of the violation of the constitution of the country, until it has been passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly and assented to by the appropriate authority.
“The constitution does not envisage that a suit would be filed to challenge a bill at the embryonic stage of legislation because it has no binding effect until it has been assented to,” Justice Bulkachuwa said.
On the position of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) that the controversial election reordering provision had been deleted by the National Assembly and thus the appeal overtaken by the deletion of the provision, the Appeal Court, however disagreed, noting that the appeal case has life in itself.
Justice Bulkachuwa, therefore, upheld the powers of the National Assembly to legislate on election reordering and dismissed the suit of the Accord Party, AGF and the INEC.
“Since the suit is not justiciable, it shows that it is frivolous and not a genuine litigation.
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“This appeal is allowed. It has merit and the judgment of the Federal High Court is hereby set aside and the suit is hereby dismissed,” Justice Bulkachuwa held.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously reported that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja ruled against the amendment of the 2019 election timetable proposed by the National Assembly.
The court in its ruling said the National Assembly lacks the power to amend the election timetable of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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