The Supreme Court of Nigeria has given the Federal Government and the National Assembly 48 hours, to resolve the dispute arising from the 4th amendment of the constitution out of court.
The apex court directed the two parties to meet and harmonise their position on the ground that the issues in dispute, are so simple and can be resolve without the court’s intervention.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, gave the directive after the counsel to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Bayo Ojo, agreed to explore an out of court settlement of the issue, after the court drew his attention to the fact that his application was defective.
The Supreme Court, however, asked the counsel to the National Assembly, Adeboyega Awomolo, to give an undertaking that he would advise his clients appropriately to maintain status quo, so as to explore an out of court resolution.
With both parties agreeing to meet and harmonise their position, the court adjourned the matter to Wednesday, May 27 for report on settlement or for further hearing.
The trouble started when the National Assembly threatened to veto the powers of President Goodluck Jonathan, for his refusal to sign the 4th amendment of the constitution into law.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Barrister Mohammed Adoke, then approached the court which in turn granted an order, urging both parties to maintain status quo, following an application by counsel to the Federal Government to substitute the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) with the President as the plaintiff in the case.
Mr Ojo was against the application by Mr Awomolo, that the originating surmount was defective as such, it should be struck out.
The court also disagreed with the Presidency on motion to substitute the plaintiff on the ground that even if the names were substituted, the originating surmount was still defective because the affidavit was deposed on behalf of the AGF.
On that ground, the AGF was advised to withdraw the summon and come before the court afresh or in the alternative explore out of court settlement.
The inability of Mr Awomolo to give an undertaking that the status quo will be maintained to preserve the last order, prompted the court to ask them to go and reconcile and report to the court on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court of Nigeria has rescheduled the hearing of the case between the National Assembly and the Presidency on constitution amendment to Monday, May 25.
The rescheduling of the hearing date was done to ensure the resolution of the face-off between the National Assembly and President Goodluck Jonathan over the dispute on the legality of the Fourth Alteration Bill for the amendment of the constitution which the President had refused to sign into law.
The apex court had earlier adjourned the suit between the two parties to June 19, when the current National Assembly would have ceased to exit.
The National Assembly through its lawyer, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, had appealed to the Supreme Court to have the case re-listed for hearing before the expiration of the tenure of the current National Assembly.
A copy of the new hearing notice, which was obtained by Channels Television reads: “Take notice that the above motion will be listed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting in Abuja on Monday, 25th day of May 2015”.
The National Assembly is asking the apex court to discharge the interlocutory orders of injunction made on May 7, which barred the lawmakers from overriding the President’s veto.
In the application, they are also asking the court to dismiss the originating summons filed by the Attorney General of the Federation, Barrister Mohammed Adoke, on the grounds that: “the originating summons dated April 22 is incompetent, fundamentally and incurably defective and thereby robs the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction”.
They also argued that “there is no known or reasonable cause of action disclosed in the originating summons to ground jurisdiction of the Supreme Court”. They claimed that it was improper and a reckless invocation of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
They also insisted that the Attorney General was not competent to invoke the original jurisdiction of the apex Court under the Supreme Court Act.