Appeal Court Adjourns Hearing On Change Of Election Sequence
The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has adjourned hearing in a suit challenging the ruling of a Federal High Court which set aside the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.
A three-man panel of the court led by Justice Abubakar Yahaya told the parties in the case on Thursday that a full court would be constituted to hear the suit, as their panel cannot hear the appeal.
The counsel to the National Assembly, Mr Joseph Daudu, said the issue before the court was very urgent.
He told the court that suit torched on matters of the coming general elections and as such, time was important.
Daudu stressed that urgency was much more intense, as not having a pronouncement could make anyone want to challenge the bill.
In his submission, counsel to the Accord Party Wole Olanipekun told the court that there was nothing urgent about the appeal to warrant parties to return to the court when the Appeal Court was headed for its annual vacation.
He, therefore, urged the court to adjourn the case till the next legal year.
In a short ruling, Justice Yahaha adjourned the case till a date to be communicated to the parties, for a full panel to be constituted.
The Federal High Court had ruled in favour of the Accord Party which urged President Muhammadu Buhari not to sign into law the amended Electoral Act Bill 2018.
The court held that the National Assembly lacked the powers to decide on the sequence of the election on behalf of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Since Nigeria returned to democracy, presidential and National Assembly elections have been conducted on the same day before other polls, while the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections follow.
Lawmakers at the National Assembly had in February amended the sequence such that the National Assembly polls would be conducted first, followed by the state lawmakers and the governors while the presidential election should take place last.
This led to a heated debate in the Senate after which President Buhari wrote the lawmakers in March, informing them that he had withheld assent to the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.
The President had stated that the amendment to election sequence in section 25 of the Principal Act might infringe on the constitutionally guaranteed discretion of INEC to organise, undertake and supervise all elections provided in section 16(a) of the constitution.
The immediate past INEC Chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega, had also challenged the power of the National Assembly to alter the sequence in which elections are conducted.