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Sunday, 18 March 2018

Polls reordering: NASS wrong to question court’s decision, say Sagay, Falana

Polls reordering: NASS wrong to question court’s decision, say Sagay, Falana

Femi Falana

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), and human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), on Friday, said the National Assembly was wrong to question the authority of the judiciary to halt the plan by the lawmakers to proceed with the Electoral Act (Amendment) bill 2018.

The Senate had on Thursday resolved to petition the National Judicial Council over the decision of a Federal High Court to stop the lawmakers from taking any further action on the bill.

The lawmakers had said the judiciary had no power to stop them from carrying out their primary duty, which is to make laws.

However, Sagay told one of our correspondents during an interview that the court took the action in line with Quia timet, which is an injunction to restrain wrongful acts which are threatened or imminent but have not yet commenced.

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The PACAC chairman said, “The law has a principle known as Quia timet. In other words, the court is given the power to stop or prevent injury before damage is done. A person who believes he will be a victim of an injury has the right to apply to a court to stop it beforehand and that is what the court has done.

“The court did not put a permanent stop to the process but merely a suspension. It is a brief restraint for a few days for a matter that is in court.”

The senior advocate urged the National Assembly not to be in a haste to question the powers of the judiciary as the judiciary was the only organ empowered by the constitution to resolve disputes between the executive and the legislature.

Sagay said the lawmakers should remember that if the executive refused to implement laws made by the National Assembly, the legislature could do nothing but run to the judiciary and so the lawmakers should be careful of their utterances.

He added, “It is very dangerous even against the interest of the National Assembly to begin to challenge the courts which are established to settle differences between the other two arms of government. And this is exactly what is happening.

“If the National Assembly is challenging the court for hearing this suit, what happens if after they have overridden the President’s veto, INEC decides to go on in accordance with its own timetable regardless? Where will the National Assembly run to?

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“So what they are doing now is like cutting their nose to spite their face because that is the only help they have if there is a real dispute.

Otherwise, whether they are overridden or not, the Presidency or INEC can decide that the whole law is illegal, unconstitutional and therefore a nullity and they will go ahead with the election and there is nothing the National Assembly can do but to go to the court.”

Sagay maintained that the National Assembly’s plan to reorder the elections was at variance with the 1999 Constitution which empowers INEC to undertake, organise and supervise elections.

Also speaking, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), faulted the Senate for questioning the power of the judiciary.

He said, “Neither the judge who granted the order nor the lawyer who applied for the order committed any act of misconduct. The Senate ought to be reminded of the interlocutory order granted by the Supreme Court on May 7, 2015, which restrained the National Assembly from overriding the veto of former President Goodluck Jonathan on the 2015 amendment to the 1999 Constitution.”

On his part, a patron of Buhari/Osinbajo 2019 re-election organisation in Kwara State, Alhaji Abdullahi Samari, urged the National Assembly not to override President Muhammadu Buhari ’s veto of the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

He expressed the hope that Buhari would handle the matter wisely.

He spoke during the inauguration of the Kwara State Buhari/Osinbajo 2019 re-election organisation in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital on Friday.

Samari said, “Buhari is protecting the interest of the masses of Nigeria. It is unfortunate that some of our representatives may be trying to protect their selfish interest.

“I want to believe that at the end of the day, what Buhari is proposing will see the light of the day. I would not think the National Assembly should go to the extent of vetoing him. There must be an agreeable point. I think they should not do it (override Buhari’s veto.”

Samari, who is also the Chairman, Caucus for Progressives Change in the Kwara All Progressives Congress, said members of the group would work hard for the success of the APC in 2019, particularly the re-election of Buhari and Osinbajo.

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