Court restrains NASS on Electoral Act amendment

CJN Justice Walter Onnoghen

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Assembly to stop its amendment of the electoral act.

Senators loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari have started collating signatures of their members as part of efforts to frustrate move by the Senate to veto the electoral bill, The Punch learnt on Wednesday.

Delivering a ruling on an oral application by the plaintiff counsel Wole Olanipekun, Justice Mohammed held that the restraining order was made to preserve the substance of the main suit.

"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 the rights of candidates in elections to a free and fair electoral review process and the amendments to section 152 (3)-(5) of the Principal Act, may raise constitutional issues over the competence of the National Assembly to legislate over Local Government elections".

"The parties are therefore ordered to maintain status quo ante belum between now and the next adjourned date".

The meeting, according to sources within the Presidency, may not be unconnected with reactions trailing the decision of the President to withhold assent to amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act.

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Meanwhile, the House Of Representatives has said it will regazzette the electoral act, expunging the areas where it is in in agreement with the executive. The lawmakers want their election to come first, followed by that of state lawmakers and governors, and lastly the presidential election. The INEC chairman who was represented by national commissioner, and chairman of the Outreach and Partnership Committee, Dr. Adekunle Ladipo Ogunmola stated that the commission was working assiduously on developing the framework for engaging PWDs.

Chinelo Ogbozor, counsel to the national assembly, had opposed the Olanipekun's appeal but to no avail.

"Also for the plaintiff to try to bundle the defendant to respond in less than 48 hours to a process he took his time to prepare tantamount to injustice", she argued.

Her refusal prompted the plaintiff to move an oral application for a preservative order.

The matter was adjourned till March 20.

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