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National Assembly can’t re-order election sequence’


• Constituents flay Omo-Agege’s suspension
• Say action an invitation to anarchy

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has held that the National Assembly has no power to dictate to the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) on the order in which the 2019 general elections should be conducted.Justice Ahmed R. Mohammed, who gave judgment yesterday in the suit brought before him by the Accord Party (AP), challenging the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which President Muhammadu Buhari with-held assent, also held that the electoral body has the sole responsibility to organise and conduct elections in the country.

The judge said: “It is the sole responsibility of the third defendant (INEC) to organise and conduct elections, including fixing of dates for the elections.“The power of INEC to organise and conduct elections in this country cannot be taken away by the Electoral Act.”

Justice Mohammed, who stated that at the time the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018 was passed by the National Assembly, INEC had already fixed dates for the 2019 general elections, said the National Assembly clearly acted in breach of the principle of separation of powers.

“After perusing submissions of counsel in this matter, I declare Section 25 of the Electoral Act 2018, which is the section that contravenes the provisions of the constitution, a nullity,” the judge said.

Justice Mohammed had earlier over-ruled the objections of the defendants to the originating summons of the plaintiff and held that the plaintiff has the locus standi to institute legal action since affidavit evidence showed that it is a registered political party in the country.He also held that the plaintiff’s case was neither academic nor an abuse of the process of the court.

“The plaintiff’s suit seeking for the interpretation of certain provisions of the constitution cannot be said to be an abuse of the process of the court,” he said.In another development, the constituents of suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), under the aegis of ‘Delta Central Collective’, yesterday protested against the continued suspension of the lawmaker by the National Assembly.

The constituents, through the protest, said his (Omo-Agege) continued suspension is an invitation to anarchy.The group, in a written speech signed by its Chairman, Chief Clever Akpovona Egbeji and forwarded to Senate President, described Omo-Agege’s suspension as illegal since, according to them, based on previous rulings of the courts, neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives has right or power to suspend any of its members.

According to them: “The Senate has no constitutional power to suspend any of its members as established by judgments to that effect in the case of Senator Ali Ndume vs the Senate in 2017, Bauchi State House of Assembly vs Hon. Danna and House of Representatives vs Hon. (now Senator) Dino Melaye and others in 2009/2010.”

The protesters added that their protests would continue as long as the Senate refuses to rescind its illegal suspension slammed on Omo-Agege.Meanwhile, a female Sergeant-At-Arms, Hajia Amina Musa, who received the written speech from the group, said would deliver it to the Senate President immediately.

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