Friday, 16 March 2018

"Maintaining Status-quo: Senate Ask CJN To Caution Judicial Officers

Image result for senate and buhari

Nigeria Upper legislative chamber has frowned at constitutional ambiguity President Mohammadu Buhari is citing for withholding assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2018. The developments have however triggered Accord party approaching the federal high court, seeking redress which led to the decision of the court asking all parties involved in maintaining status-quo. With this, the upper chambers' plan of vetoing the bill is being put on hold.

 But in its Plenary yesterday, the minority leader, senator God’s will Akpabio raised a motion on the need to caution some judicial officers regarding sensitive national issues that deal most essentially on the interpretation of functions of the arms of government which he said should have been taken to supreme court instead for interpretation.   

Adopting a motion sponsored by the Senate Minority Leader, the upper chamber described the ruling asking the upper chamber to "maintain status quo" as unfortunate. It argued that the order breached the separation of powers and agreed Akpabio should write a letter to the CJN to draw his attention to the matter.
The Federal High Court, Abuja, had on Wednesday gave an order restraining the National Assembly from passing the bill into law. Justice Ahmed Mohammed also asked the defendants to maintain the "status quo" ante Belum, pending a decision of the court

Also yesterday, the Senate charged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, to caution judicial officers against granting court orders capable of truncating parliamentary operations. He gave the order while delivering a ruling on an oral application for a preservative order brought by Accord Party.
The Senate in its executive session on Tuesday had also referred the president’s veto to its  department for advice
The report points out that the president’s claims – that the amendment introducing a specific sequence for elections under Section 25 of the Principal Act 2010 infringed on the discretion of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to “organise, undertake and supervise elections” – is flawed.
It states: “The correct legal position, however, is that by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 First Alteration Act 2010, Act No. 1, specifically, Section 5 provides that Section 76 of the Principal Act is altered thus (a) subsection (1) in line 2, by inserting immediately after the word ‘commission’ ‘the words’ in accordance with the Electoral Act.
“From the above amendment, it is crystal clear that the powers to regulate the principal elements of all federal electoral processes were by the above amendment removed from the Independent National Electoral Commission and vested in the Assembly, which has the power to make laws for peace, order and good governance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
According to the report, “The argument of the president that the sequencing of the elections under Section 25 infringed on the discretion of INEC, without expressly pointing out what specific aspects or ways and manner, cannot be a basis for legal or constitutional argument or decision.
“With due respect, the opinion expressed is too general to establish a basis for the exercise of a legal or constitutional power, more so because ‘discretion’ is a principle governed by the rules of administrative law and not that of constitutional law on which the president claimed to have anchored his arguments.”

The report explains: “The new subsection (3) to section 138 actually clarifies the ambiguity contained in subsection 1 of the Principal Act and reinforces the constitutional standards specified in Sections 65, 106, 131 and 177 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.”

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