Court To Hear Suit Seeking To Stop Elections On Saturdays
A federal high court in Abuja has fixed May 22 to hear a suit seeking to stop the conduct of elections and examinations on Saturdays.
The suit was instituted by one Ugochukwu Uchenwa, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who submits that conducting elections and examinations on Saturdays infringes on his right to worship.
The Seven-day Adventist Church holds its worship on Saturdays.
At the court session on Wednesday, the court granted an application by Osasogie Uwaifo, counsel to the Federal Government and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), for an extension of time to regularise their processes.
The court also granted a similar application by Benjamin Amaefule, the plaintiff’s counsel, and deemed their processes as duly filled and served.
James Omotosho, presiding judge, then adjourned the matter until May 22 for hear-ing.
Listed as defendants in the suit are President Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF, the Independent Na-tional Electoral Commission, (INEC), and the Minister of Internal Affairs.
Others include the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB), the National Examination Council, (NECO), West African Examination Council, (WAEC), and the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NBTEB)
The plaintiff is praying the court to declare the schedule of elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “Sabbath day” as a violation of his fundamental right to freedom of worship.
“It is also a violation of conscience, profession, and free practice of faith and right to participate freely in the government of the applicant and that of entire members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Nigeria,” the plaintiff submitted.
“A declaration that the actions of the 5th to 8th respondents fixing examinations on Saturdays, a “Sabbath day of the Lord “ is a violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of conscience, profession and free practice of faith of the members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church Nigeria.
“It is also a violation of the right to freedom of education of the applicant and the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Nigeria.”
In the alternative, the plaintiff is asking the court to direct INEC to mark a separate day for election, specifically for members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Election: Stop Politicising 25% Requirement In FCT, Lawyer Counsels Colleagues
A renowned constitutional lawyer, Dr Olukayode Ajulo, has counselled lawyers in the country to be wary of politicising the issue of obtaining 25 per cent in FCT as a requirement to win the Presidential election.
Ajulo stated this while exchanging views with newsmen yesterday in Abuja against the backdrop of some lawyers insisting that securing 25 per cent of votes in FCT was necessary to secure victory for any presidential candidate.
The Tide source recalls that only Mr Peter Obi, the candidate of Labour Party secured 25 per cent in FCT in the February 25 General Elections, while the President-elect, Sen. Bola Tinubu, the APC candidate, scored 20 per cent
This has generated a lot of comments and reactions from legal practitioners, while some insist on the 25 per cent, others said the FCT should be treated as a state.
Ajulo, however, said politics had been mixed with law in order to please certain quarters of the political class, adding that it was a dangerous mix.
Ajulo said “there is politics, and there is law and while they can sometimes intersect, they should not be muddled up when discussing pertinent legal issues.”
He said such legal issues had the potential of affecting the nationhood of the country and the collective development of her citizens.
He stated that it was disturbing the way some of his professional colleagues analysed issues of 25 per cent requirement, saying some of the comments were uncomfortable and a gross misinterpretation.
“Some lawyers give certain legal opinions they do not even believe in because of politics, it is the common man on the streets that suffers this dangerous game of deliberate misinterpretation of our laws”, he said.
Ajulo said the deliberate misinterpretation of some lawyers was a mockery of the nation’s constitution and the legal profession, adding that such had a way of turning to hunt its makers.
He reiterated that it was imperative to set the record straight amidst the brouhaha surrounding the interpretation of section 134(2) of the Constitution and the multifarious explanations by public commentators and senior lawyers.
He further said that there was need to state the true position of the law, devoid of emotion and political sentiments.
“There are two opposing sides in the arguments, those who argue that for a candidate to be declared winner, he must get 25 per cent of the votes cast in FCT asides meeting other constitutional criteria.
“Also, there are those who contend that a candidate needs not poll 25 per cent of the votes cast in FCT to be declared winner, so far as he meets other constitutional requirements”, he noted.
“Candidate for an election to the office of the President shall be deemed to have been duly elected where, there being more than two candidates for the election.
“First, he has the highest number of votes cast at the election; and secondly he has not less than one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the Federation and the FCT”, he pointed out.
According to him, even though the FCT is not a state, the Constitution has clothed it with the toga of a State and all the powers of a Governor in a State is vested in the Minister of the FCT.
He said, while the Houses of Assembly of the 36 States of the Federation legislate for each State respectively, the National Assembly makes laws for the FCT.
He further said that while the States had their respective Local Government Areas, the FCT also has Area Councils.
The constitutional lawyer said, “ a reasonable, just and sensible interpretation of section 134(2) would then be that scoring 25 per cent of the votes cast in the FCT is like scoring 25 per cent in any other State of the federation.”
Tinubu, FEC Send Condolences Over Gen Diya’s Demise
President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) have sent messages of condolence to the family of former Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Oladipo Diya, who died yesterday morning.
General Diya, according to his son, Sinmi, passed on early on Sunday at the age of 79.
The former Nigeria’s number two citizen served as military governor of Ogun State where he hailed from and held several military positions before he became Chief of General Staff in 1993 as second in command to the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha.
While expressing his sadness over the passing of the retired General, Tinubu, in a statement by Tunde Rahman, praised his contributions to national development and the military institution.
“The news of the death of General Oladipo Diya early this morning came to me as a shock. I send my heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his immediate family especially his wives and children.
“General Diya lived a remarkable life of a soldier and he made his mark in the military where he served our country diligently. As Military Governor of Ogun State, in the various military positions he held till he rose to the enviable position of Chief of General Staff and second in command to the Head of State, he served meritoriously.
“As much as he could, he played a stabilising role during one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s life in the aftermath of June 12, 1993 presidential election. He will be remembered for his patriotism and service to the nation.
“My condolences to Governor Dapo Abiodun and the people of Ogun State.
I pray that Almighty Allah comfort his family and all those he left behind. May God Almighty grant his soul eternal rest”, he stated.
Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, on behalf of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, said he received with shock the death of Gen. Diya.
Director Information in the Office of the SGF, Willie Bassey in a statement said Mustapha described General Diya as a seasoned military officer with admirable administrative capabilities in his various functions as Military Governor, Chief of Defence Staff and later, Chief of General Staff.
He said Diya was a notable statesman who made invaluable contributions to nation-building.
“FEC condoles with the government and people of Ogun State, his family and friends, and prays to God to grant the soul of the deceased eternal rest”, he stated.
Fubara’s Victory, Divine Favour From God – Lawmaker
The lawmaker representing Ogba/ Egbema/ Ndoni Constituency II in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Nathaniel Owaji has described the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship candidate, Sir Siminialayi Fubara, as divine favour from God.
He stated that Sir Fubara was carefully chosen for the people of Rivers State, adding that power comes from God and that was the reason he won the election by a landslide.
Hon. Uwaji said this while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after the 2023 Governorship election result was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Port Harcourt.
The lawmaker further attributed the victory of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Governor Nyesom Wike and Bro Felix Obuah who have shown good leadership qualities over the years.
He expressed confidence that the Governor- elect will consolidate on the transformational agenda of the PDP-led administration in the state.
“ I am happy that the electorate in my LGA voted overwhelmingly for PDP based on the infrastructural development witnessed in the State for the past eight years.
“The current administration in the State led by Governor Wike has unbeaten track record hence the people voted massively for PDP candidates.
“ PDP in ONELGA has remained one indivisible entity capable of winning elections based on the efforts of Bro Obuah’s large heart in carrying everyone along”, Hon Uwaji said.
The state lawmaker who was also the PDP campaign director in the area expressed optimism that the elected House of Assembly members in ONELGA have the capacity to represent their constituencies effectively and efficiently.
He commended Governor Wike for his support for the party and choosing their daughter to serve as Deputy Governor.
He also lauded Bro Obuah for his commitment to achieving victory and the people of the area for coming out en masse to vote for all PDP candidates.
By: Tonye Orabere
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