Law News
Poll shift: HDP asks court to restrain Jonathan

A suit was on Wednesday filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order stopping any attempt to further shift the general elections, which were recently re-scheduled to take place on March 28 and April 11.

The suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/106/2015 was instituted by the Hope Democratic Party, asking for an order barring undue interference with the power of the Independent National Electoral Commission to schedule and conduct elections in the country.

It is asking the court to stop what it describes as “the usurpation of powers of INEC” under any guise.

The defendants in the suit include President Goodluck Jonathan; the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Alex Badeh.

Other defendants are the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The plaintiff asks the court to declare that the postponement of the polls earlier scheduled for February 14 and 28 is not in conformity with the provisions of the law.

It anchors the prayer on the provisions of section 132(1) of the 1999 Constitution and section 26(1), (2) and (5) of the Electoral Act, which it says prescribes that an already scheduled polls could only be shifted if there was natural disaster or natural emergency.

It contends that the letter by the Chief of Defence Staff and the National Security Adviser dated February 3 to INEC on their inability to guarantee security for Nigerians did not qualify as a natural disaster or emergency that could warrant election postponement.

Part of the plaintiff’s prayers read, “An order restraining the 1st (CDS), 2nd (NSA), 3rd (Jonathan) and 5th (AGF) from further interfering in the plaintiff’s right to participate in election and governance of Nigeria and the power of the 4th defendant (INEC) to schedule and conduct elections in Nigeria.

“An order compelling the 5th defendant (AGF) to direct the due provisions of adequate securities by the civil authorities and other civil defence agencies with responsibilities of providing internal securities for the conduct of election by the 4th defendant (INEC).”

The plaintiff also contends that INEC is “not under any duty or bound to obey or comply with any unverified or cogent reasons to postpone scheduled election in the absence of a natural disaster.”

In an 18-paragraph supporting affidavit deposed to by one Mr. Anderson Chike, the plaintiff avers that the grounds of postponing the February 14 elections by INEC “were not cogent and verifiable reasons as required by law which stipulates only natural disaster and natural emergencies.”

It also avers, among others, that the internal security, including that of election duties, are normally undertaken by the police and other civil authorities and not the military whose roles in elections are limited and complimentary in the event of major internal crisis.

The case has not been assigned to a judge.

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