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Published On: Wed, Mar 21st, 2018

Election sequence: AGF dubs NASS reaction threat to court

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By Vivian Okejeme Abuja

The Attorney-General of the Federal, AGF, Abubarka Malami, SAN, has described the reaction of the National Assembly to the order of court to maintain status quo on the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill as unfortunate threat.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the federal high court, had on the 14 March
2018, ordered parties in the suit seeking for a preservative order to maintain status quo until the hearing of the suit.
When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, Malami, who is representing the office of the AGF, described the reaction that greeted the ruling of the court as threat and unfortunate.
He also, reiterated the fact that the matter is of time essence, important and need urgency.
“Above all, the constitution correlation attached to the matter and it’s greater effect on our democracy, underscores my appearance.
“I have to state that threat and intimidation by one arm of government to another concerning this matter is unfortunate. We have collective duties to support the entrenchment and the doctrine of separation of power. We must work hard to ensure this independence is sustained.”
Counsel to the Plaintiff, (Accord Party) Wole Olanikpeku, SAN, said, “I urge we move to the originating sermon and your lordship to give us an earlier date.
“On the 14th March, the court in his wisdom ruled that the parties remain status quo.
“Unfortunately, this has been miss-interpreted in diverse quarters. I am saying this for the record purposes, so that the subject matter for litigation before this should not be hijacked.”
Counsel to the National Assembly (1st respondent), Jacob Daudu SAN, said, “This matter is important for continual wellbeing of our democracy.
“Once again the Judiciary is in the eye of the storm. The order of your lordship has sparked off different reactions from different quarters with commendations and condemnations.”
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Femi Falana SAN, agrees with the views and sentiments in relation to the urgency of the case.
With respect to the submissions of the AGF referring to the threat made, Falana said, “I urge your lordship to ignore such development to avoid being drawn into unnecessary controversy.”
Also, yesterday, Action People’s Party, (APP) through its counsel, Kingdom Okere, approached the court with a motion seeking to be joined in the suit.
The motion which was filed and dated 16 March, supported by 15 paragraph affidavit, is asking the court for two prayers based on 12 grounds.
According to motion, the important thing about the motion is to identify who is the Party seeking to be joined and who is the Plaintiff, adding that both are political parties, as well as how the court ruling will affect the conduct of the 2019 Election.
Arguing his application, Okere informed the court that the fourth defendant seeking to be joined have a different line of argument.
Opposing the application, Olanikpeku, SAN, said that the application has no nexus to the instance suit.
In his reaction, Jacob Daudu, SAN, agreed with the submissions of Olanikpeku, adding that the application is incompetent and should be struck out completely.
Malami, opposing the application, associated himself with the canvases and submissions of the learned silks, he aver that the application is inherently defective.
“The position contained is contrary to section 115 of the evidence act, 2011. The affidavit is argumentative and conclusive and devoid of the factual bases and circumstances.
“ I urge your lordship to dismiss the application.”
In his own submission, Falana argued that the application is materially defective and urged the court to dismiss the application and ordered the applicant to pay a substantive cost to the parties.
After taking their argument, the trial judge, Justice Mohammed, held that being a political party does not automatically qualified him to be joined in the suit.
He added that the 1st defendant can comfortably defend the case without any party joining it; also, that the party lacks locus to seek to be joined in the instance suit.
Consequently, he declined the application and adjoined to March 26 for the hearing of the instance suit.

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