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ELECTION SEQUENCE: Senate kicks against court’s interference



ELECTION SEQUENCE: Senate kicks against court's interference

The Senate on Thursday opposed an Abuja Federal High Court order stopping the National Assembly from taking any further action on the Electoral Act Amendment Bill, 2018.

The resolution was sequel to the adoption of a Point of Order raised by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio.

Relying on Order 45, Akpabio urged the Senate to write the Chief Justice of Nigeria to intimate him of the development and remind him of the principle of separation of powers.

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, restrained the National Assembly from further action on amendment of the Electoral Act pending the determination of a suit filed before it by Accord Party.

The court, in a ruling delivered by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, ordered all the parties to maintain status quo antebellum, “at least between now and the next adjourned date, Tuesday.”

However, Akpabio, while disagreeing with the court action, said that the issue had to do with due process and separation of powers.

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“I have perused the constitution and I think I cannot see anywhere that the court has the power to stop the proceedings of the Senate. If this is allowed, it therefore means that in future the court can stop the National Assembly from appropriating and the country will have no budget for that year.

“Separation of powers is a core of democracy so there is need for the Chief Justice to caution legal officers on issuing such orders geared towards interfering with other arms of government,’’ Akpabio said.

Adding his voice, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan said that amending the Electoral Act does not require court intervention.

“Institutions should rather do things that should enhance our democracy. The issue at stake does not require court intervention because this is democracy at work

“The court should hands off what we do in the National assembly, it is when we have finished and we have a law that the court feels that there are issues that they can interpret,’’ Lawan said.

In his remark, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki reiterated the need for every arm of government to function in accordance with the principle of separation of powers.

“The issue is clear and the principle is clear; what is important is building democracy and building our institutions. We will come and go but the institutions will remain so it is imperative that everybody must work towards sustaining the institutions. We will express our concern to the Chief Justice of Nigeria,’’ Saraki said.

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