The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Wednesday, restored the powers of the National Assembly to reorder the 2019 general election to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Justice Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in a judgment on April 25 this year, upheld a suit by Accord Party, to the effect that the National Assembly attempted to usurp the exclusive power of INEC by seeking to dictate the sequence of elections.
But in a unanimous judgment on Wednesday on the appeal filed by the National Assembly, a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by the court’s President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, set aside the April 25 judgment by Justice Mohammed.
Justice Bulkachuwa, in the lead judgment, said the Federal High Court was without jurisdiction to hear the suit in the first place, because the suit was premature.
While reacting to the judgment, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, praised the appellate court for upholding the powers of the National Assembly to make laws in the country.
Saraki in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, stated that the judgment further reinforced the belief of Nigerians that the judiciary remains the hope of the country in strengthening democracy, resolving conflicts between various arms and levels of government as well as protecting the rights of individuals.
He added that with the judgment, it was now clear that the National Assembly was right when it passed the bill stating the sequence of elections and that the legislature reversed its decision on the issue, after President Muhammadu Buhari refused assent to the bill, in the interest of peace and to forestall any legal obstacle on the way of the 2019 elections.
“I have always believed in the need to test our laws in court by seeking judicial interpretations on contentious issues. By doing so, we will be expanding the scope of our laws, sharpening the rough edges of legislation and assserting our faith in the judiciary as a fundamental arbiter,” the Senate president stated.