By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has been approached by three registered political parties, seeking an order to stop President Muhammad Buhari from assenting to the amended Electoral Act 2018.
The plaintiffs in the matter are Advanced People’s Democratic Alliance (APDA) Allied Peoples Movement (APM)and Movement For Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD).
In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1469/18, dated December 3rd, 2018, the plaintiffs, through their counsel, Adekunle Oladapo Otitoju, argued that the President’s assent to the 2018 Electoral Act will truncate next year’s election.
Mentioned as defendants in the suit are: Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
In the charge sheet, the plaintiffs posed two questions for the court.
They want the court to determine whether the 1st defendant can proceed to assent the electoral and spent bill 2018 forwarded to him by the National Assembly to be used to conduct the 2019 general election when there is no more adequate tome for the manifestation of the proposed act.
Also to determine whether assenting to the Electoral Amendment Bill 2018, now will not truncate the 4th respondent (INEC) from ensuring proper
conduct at 2019 general election considering the fact that the notice of election was initiated in line with the Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
They asked the court to determine the following reliefs: A declaration that the assenting of the bill will truncate the 2019 Generat Election
Also, an order of this court stopping the ist Defendant from assenting to the Electoral Amendment bill 2018.
In the affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by Shittu Mohammed Kabir, Chairman and Presidential candidate of APDA, the plaintiffs said the Electoral Act 2010, as Amended, was done sequence to the 2015 general election adding that the purpose was to among other things provide adequate time for the 4th respondent to issue notice of election, receive nomination of candidates from political parties and ensure the proper conduct of political parties.
They maintained that the Act has been used by the 4th respondent to conduct the 2015 general Election into various political offices in Nigeria.
He further said that the Act has been used to issue notice for the 2019 General Election.
In the affidavit in support of the originating summon, he said, “That I also know as a fact that electoral Act 2010 as amended has been adopted / used by all the registered political parties to conduct their primary election into all the political elective offices in preparation for the 2019 general election coming up in February. 2019.
“That I know as a fact that the process leading to the conduct of the 2019 general elections was initiated and substantially consummated on the basis of 2010 Electoral Act.
“That I know as a fact that changing or amending the Act that has been used for primary elections in preparation for the forth coming General election which is less than 3 months will engender confusion in the electoral/political process.
“That I know as a fact that signing the bill is to make it an Act to amend the Electoral law which has been used already to set up the process and conduct of the 2019 General Election coming up in less than 3 months.”
He further submitted, “That l know as a Fact that accenting the bill will truncate the electoral process which had already begun.
“That i know as a fact that the bill will provide for electronic transmission of results from polling unit to collation centres. The said bill is hereby attached and marked EXHIBIT 82
“That i know as a fact that there is no way that the electorates who are not educated in this area can assimilate the act of electoral voting and transmission in less than 2 months to the general election.
“That as candidate in the forth coming election, 1 know as a fact. that the level of education of the generality of the electorate is very low and they will be confused and this may lead to them being disenfranchised by the sudden introduction of electronic voting in the electoral process.
“That proper voters education and demonstration of electronic voting system is required to be done in all the 36 states at the federation and Federal Capital Territory and 774 LGs and Area Councils, before such bill can be introduced to the electoral process.”
The matter is yet to be assigned to any Judge.