2019 Election Sequence: Court Dismisses Suit against National Assembly

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Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
The Federal High Court sitting in Enugu yesterday dismissed a suit challenging the recent moves by the National Assembly to change the sequence of the 2019 election through an amendment to the Electoral Act.

The suit was filed by a chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Anike Nwoga.
In a judgment delivered by the presiding judge, Justice A.M. Liman, the court held that the plaintiff, Nwoga, lacked the locus to initiate the action and therefore, the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it.

According to Justice Liman, for a person to have access to court, he must affirm his locus standi, otherwise the suit is not justiceable.

He maintained that the affidavit deposed by the plaintiff does not show he has any justiceable interest, neither did he disclose any special injury that the amendment will cause him.

The judge noted that the plaintiff did not claim to bring the case on public interest like the case of Fawehimi vs. federal government, which he was relying on, but on the grounds of injury that would be inflicted on him as a registered voter who had conditioned his mind that he would vote for the presidential election first and others as scheduled by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and that altering the sequence would incur additional cost from public funds.

Justice Liman said the case of Adesanya vs. the federal government makes it clear that a person must have special interest to institute a matter in court.

He added that the instant case, the plaintiff has not proved that he would incur any personal injury should the National Assembly change the election sequence.

On the claim by the plaintiff that the action of the National Assembly is in bad faith and targeted against President Muhammadu Buhari and that INEC was the body duly empowered to organise, conduct and supervise elections, Justice Liman said: “What legal right has he (plaintiff) where there are individuals directly affected or is he trying to tell us that the president and INEC are incapable from stopping the National Assembly from amending the Electoral Act in a manner that is unconstitutional.”

“I hereby not only declare the plaintiff as lacking in locus standi, I hereby dismiss the suit,” Justice Liman held.
Speaking with journalists outside the courtroom, Godwin Onwusi, the counsel to the plaintiff, said they would look at the judgment and decide the next course of action.