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Adefarati: Court orders INEC to go ahead with polls

Posted by By GODWIN TSA Abuja on 2007/04/11 | Views: 407 |

Adefarati: Court orders INEC to go ahead with polls


A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the green light to go ahead with the general elections according to its timetable.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the green light to go ahead with the general elections according to its timetable.

The judgment of the court has put paid to the controversy as to whether or not the general elections will hold as scheduled, despite the death of the presidential candidate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Adebayo Adefarati.

Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Roseline Ukeje, who gave the judgment on Tuesday, held that death is not a ground for the postponement of an election as it only provoked the nomination of another candidate as a replacement by the affected political party, going by the provisions of the Constitution.

The suit, brought before the court by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Adebayo Ojo (SAN), asked the court to compel INEC to conduct the elections as scheduled despite Adefarati's death.
Section 37 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2006 provides for a shift in the election timetable in an event of the death of one of the candidates.

The section reads: "If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or Resident electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election."

However, the court held that this section of the Act is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 132 (3), 135 (3), 178 (3) and 180 (3) of the 1999 constitution and it was accordingly struck out. The court agreed with the submissions of the Federal Government and INEC that any other law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the 1999 constitution, the constitution shall prevail and that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.

Invoking the provisions of section 180 (3), Justice Ukeje held that an election could only be postponed or extended if the federation is at war in which the territory of Nigeria is physically involved and the president considers that it is not practicable to hold elections.
Even at that, according to the court, "the National Assembly may, by resolution, extend the period of four years mentioned in subsection (2) of this section from time to time, but no such extension shall exceed a period of six months at any one time."

Though the Alliance for Democracy was invited to participate in the trial, it did not honour the invitation of the court.
Specifically, Justice Ukeje had, last Tuesday, ordered that the AD should be compulsorily made a party in the suit.
The court however said it would go ahead with the judgment on the suit, if the party did not appear before it.

On whether the Attorney General of the Federation had the legal right to file the action, the court held that by virtue of the provisions of section 150 (1) of the 1999 constitution, the Attorney General of the Federation, being the chief law officer of the country, was imbued with the locus standi to initiate the action, which is a constitutional issue.

Counsel to the Federal Government and the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Ojo had argued that the matter was constitutional, which made the involvement of the political party unnecessary.
Ojo added that the party would have came before the court during the proceedings, if it were interested in being a party in the matter.

In the suit, the Federal Government has asked the court to stop the INEC from extending the forthcoming general elections on the basis of the death of Adefarati.
In the originating summons, the Federal Government wanted the court to declare that Section 37 (1) of the Electoral Act 2006 was inconsistent with some provisions of the 1999 constitution by INEC.

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Comments (2)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown