A Federal High Court in Abuja has restrained President Muhamadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the Senate President, Speaker and others from refusing to implement the newly passed Electoral Act as it is.
Justice Inyang Ekwo,in a ruling on Monday, also restrained the Senate President, Speaker, INEC and seven others from acceding to Buhari’s request that the National Assembly reworks the new Electoral Act by delete Section 84(12) of the new law.
The ruling was on a motion ex-parte for interim injunctions, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/247/2022 filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Listed as defendants are: the President of the Federation, the AGF, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Clerk of the National Assembly, the Senate Leader, the House Leader of the House of Assembly, INEC, the Deputy President of the Senate, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, the Deputy Senate Leader and the Deputy House Leader of the House of Reps.
Justice Ekwo, after listening to lawyer to the PDP, James Onoja (SAN), who argued the motion, issued an order of interim injunction restraining the defendants and their agents “from refusing to implement the duly signed Electoral Act or in any manner howsoever withholding the said Act from being put to use or failing to or refusing in any manner howsoever from enforcing the provisions of the said Electoral Act 2022 including the provisions of Section 84 (12) of the said Act pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction filed in this suit.
He further issued an order of interim injunction restraining the other defendants, except the President and the AGF, “from implementing or in manner whatsoever, giving effect to the directive of the first defendant/respondent to delete or remove the provisions of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 on the ground that it is unconstitutional or at all or in any manner taking any step at the behest of the first defendant/respondent or at all to render Section 84 of the Electoral Act 2022 inoperative pending the determination of the motion on Notice for interlocutory injunction filed in this suit.
The PDP argued that the President, having assented to the Electoral Bill forwarded to him on February 25, 2022 cannot give any directive to the National Assembly to take immediate steps to remove a section of the said Electoral Act 2022 on any ground or grounds whatsoever.
It further argued that the duty to interpret any law is exclusively reserved for the Judiciary, not the Executive including the President.
The PDP contended that contrary to constitutional provisions that guaranteed the separation of powers between the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary, the principal officers of the National Assembly, listed as defendants in the suit, “intend to usurp the judicial functions of the courts, which is exclusively reserved for the judicial arm of the government as guaranteed under the said Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria 1999 as amended, to give effect to the proclamation or declaration of the first defendant/respondent that the provisions of Section 4(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is unconstitutional.”
It added that the motion ex-parte was filed to ensure that the principal officers of the National Assembly do not give effect to the President’s directive to remove Section 84(12) of the Act.
Justice Ekwo has fixed further hearing in the case for March 21.