APP files joinder-application
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has ordered that Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, be served with processes in the suit challenging the powers of the National Assembly to re-order the sequence for the 2019 general elections.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed also directed that the AGF be served with hearing notice to ensure his appearance in court tomorrow when legal fireworks will commence on dispute surrounding the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which President Muhammadu Buhari declined to assent to.
It will be recalled that the court had last Wednesday, halted moves by Senate and House of Representatives to kick-start the process of passing the electoral bill that was vetoed by President Buhari, into law, through a two-thirds majority vote.
Meanwhile, the case has assumed a fresh dimension, as the Action Peoples Party, APP, has filed an application to be joined as an interested party in the suit, which it said was aimed at “stopping the NASS from performing its constitutional legislative duty of overriding the President for refusing to assent to the bill.”
It is seeking to be joined as the 4th defendant in the suit that originally had NASS, INEC and AGF as defendants.
APP, in the application filed by its lawyer, Mr Okere Kingdom, told the court that it is a registered political party in Nigeria and has the right to sponsor candidates in the 2019 general election.
It told the court that it strongly believes that re-ordering election sequence as contained in 2018 amended Electoral Bill, which was rejected by President Buhari, “will guarantee free and fair election and give every political party equal opportunity.”
It said: “The party seeking to be joined believes strongly in the tenets of rule of law and separation of powers, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and believes that it is within the constitutional responsibility of the National Assembly to make laws in Nigeria, including law setting the sequence of election.
“The party seeking to be joined believes strongly that sequence of election is different from date of election, which the Independent National Electoral Commission has the constitutional discretion to fix.
“The party seeking to be joined believes strongly that no court of law has the constitutional power to stop the National Assembly from performing its constitutional duty of lawmaking, but rather the outcome or product of the legislative powers of the National Assembly can be challenged in the court of law by way of judicial interpretation.
“The party seeking to be joined believes strongly that reordering election sequence as contained in the 2018 amended Electoral Bill which was rejected by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the subject matter of this suit will guarantee free and fair election.
“The party seeking to be joined will be affected by the outcome of this suit.
“Joining the party seeking to be joined is just and will eliminate filling/duplication similar court actions on the same subject matter and thereafter seeking leave of the Hon. Court to consolidate them.
“That it will meet the interest of justice to join all registered political parties in Nigeria as parties in this suit since the outcome will affect the conduct of the 2019 general election and the participation of political parties.
“That the major objectives of political parties under the Constitution and the Electoral Act is to contest election and form government at all levels of governance in Nigeria.
“The party seeking to be joined believes that the 2018 amended Electoral Bill which was rejected by the President and which is the subject matter of this suit will guarantee level playing ground for all political parties and cure the bandwagon effect of the party that wins the Presidential election winning undue landslide victory in other elections and thereby jeopardizing the chances of other political parties.