Law News
Constitution Amendment: FG asks court to stop N’ Assembly

Determined to sideline the proposed amendments to the 1999 constitution, the Federal Government, yesterday, prayed the Supreme Court to issue an order of interlocutory injunction against both chambers of the National Assembly.

The government urged the court to stop the federal lawmakers from taking any further step towards passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration) Act, 2015, into law, until hearing and final determination of the suit pending before the apex court.

It filed the application through the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, pursuant to Order 3 Rule 14 of the Supreme Court Rules as amended.

Meanwhile, Adoke has already secured the services of another Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a former AGF, Chief Bayo Ojo, to handle the matter on his behalf.

The AGF told the Supreme Court that the National Assembly was determined to proceed with the passing of the constitutional amendments by overriding the veto of same by President Goodluck Jonathan, despite the fundamental nature of the issues raised against the proposed alterations to the constitution.

The AGF argued that it would be in the interest of the whole Nigerian Polity that the issues in the substantive suit are resolved one way or the other by the court, before the National Assembly could proceed further on the proposed alterations to the constitution.

According to the AGF; “Hon. Samson Osagie, Minority Whip of the House of Representative, said to the whole world at a Press Conference purposely called on the issue in this suit that despite any case filed against the said Act (which actually is a Bill); the National Assembly would go ahead to pass it into law. ”

The AGF contended that the balance? of convenience tilts in favour of resolution of the legal grey areas concerning the proposed constitution amendment, before any further step could be taken on the Bill.

In an affidavit deposed to by one Theophilus Okwute, a lawyer in the chambers of Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN and Co, which was attached to the application, he averred before the apex court thus; “That I listened to Hon. Samson Osagie, the Minority Whip of the House of Representative on the NTA 9 o’clock news on 24/04/2015 when he said that the National Assembly would go ahead to pass the (Fourth Alteration) Act (Bill) 2015 into law despite any Court action because no order had been made against the National Assembly to restrain it from doing so.

“That by that very disposition of the said Hon. Samson Osagie who spoke to the press as a Principal Officer of the Defendant/Respondent, it is clear that the Defendant/Respondent is determined to proceed to pass the Fourth Alteration Act (sic) into Law despite the pendency of the substantive suit herein.

“That fundamental questions were raised by the Plaintiff/Applicant on the proposed alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015 which is in issue in this suit.

“That it will be in the larger interest of Nigeria that those issues be resolved before the Defendant/Respondent takes any further step in giving effect to the proposed alterations to the Constitution.

“That with the utterances of Hon. Samson Osagie at the Press Conference earlier alluded to in this affidavit, it is clear that the Defendant is determined to ignore the proceeding before this Honourable Court on the proposed alteration and proceed to give effect to the alterations to the Constitution.”

“That the Defendant/Respondent will not lose anything or suffer any prejudice if this application is granted.

“That the balance of convenience tilts in favour of granting this application. That the whole Nigerian legal system shall be put into confusion if the Defendant/Respondent proceeds to give effect to the Fourth Alteration Act (Bill) 2015 and this suit succeeds such that the Constitution remain unaltered, meaning that the Act is void and or no effect.

“That the Constitution is the basic law of Nigeria and should only be amended following due process. That it will be in the interest of justice to grant this application”, he stated.

FG had asked the apex court to nullify all the proposed amendments to the constitution.

In its originating summons, it prayed the Supreme Court to declare as unconstitutional, the amendments as proposed by the lawmakers.

”Specifically, FG urged the court to set aside sections 3, 4, 12, 14, 21, 23, 36, 39, 40, 43 and 44 of the Fourth Alteration Act, 2015, purportedly passed by the Defendant.

It contended that the said Fourth Alteration Act 2015, was not passed with the mandatory requirement of four-fifths majority of members of the Defendant (National Assembly), and the mandatory due processes provided for under the relevant sections of the extant Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

”As a follow up. President Jonathan equally wrote separate letters to the Senate President, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, asking them to halt moves by members of the National Assembly to go ahead with the constitution amendment process.

”In the letter which was served on them by the AGF, President Jonathan urged them to restrain other federal ‘legislators from tampering with the 1999 constitution, as issues regarding its proposed amendments, are already before the Supreme Court.”


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