Appeal Court delivers judgment over power in general elections’ sequence suit today

The Court of Appeal in Abuja will on Wednesday (today) deliver judgment in a case bordering on the dispute over the power of the National Assembly to set the sequence of the general elections through the amendment of the Electoral Act.

A five-man panel of the court led by its President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, had reserved judgment after hearing all parties to the appeal through their respective lawyers on July 19.

Justice Bulkachuwa had said the date of the judgment was to be communicated to the lawyers.

Some lawyers involved in the case confirmed to our correspondent on Tuesday that the court’s hearing notices slating the judgment for Wednesday had been served on the counsel representing all the parties to the appeal.

The appeal was filed by the National Assembly against the April 25, 2018 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which had voided the elections’ sequence provision of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

The controversial provision in the said bill sought to alter the sequence in which the presidential, governorship, the federal and state legislative houses’ elections must be conducted.

But the National Assembly later expunged the provision from the bill following the judgment of the Federal High Court.

It then sent the revised version of the bill without the controversial provision to President Muhammadu Buhari for assent.

However, it filed an appeal against the Federal High Court’s judgment insisting that despite removing the controversial provision from the bill, it had the power to alter the sequence of the polls.

In their response, the Accord Party, which instituted the suit that gave rise to the April 25 judgment of the Federal High Court, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the Independent National Electoral Commission represented by Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had at the hearing of July 19, opposed the appeal.

The trio of the Accord Party, the AGF and INEC, argued through their respective lawyers, that the appeal had been overtaken by the event and so should be dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

They argued that the appeal was no longer relevant since the National Assembly had sent to President Buhari for assent a fresh Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 from which the controversial section 25 had been removed.

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