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.
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 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.”