The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reversed the judgment by the Federal High Court, Abuja which voided Section 25 in the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018, which sought to dictate the sequence of the next general elections.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja had, in a judgment on April 25 this year, upheld a suit by Accord Party, to the effect that the National Assembly attempted to usurp the exclusive power of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by seeking to dictate the sequence of elections.
But, in a judgment on Wednesday on an appeal by the National Assembly, a five-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by the court’s President, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa set aside the April 25 judgment by Justice Mohammed.
Justice Bulkachuwa, in the lead judgment, said the Federal High Court was without jurisdiction to hear the suit in the first place, because it (the suit) was premature.
The court said the provision of a Bill could not be challenged in court until it becomes an Act.
The appellate court was also of the view the plaintiff at the lower court, Accord Party (AP) lacked the locus standi to institute the suit, because the disputed provision of the Bill did not affect its (AP’s) rights or obligations as a political party.
The court said the “general interest” which is available to the public did not confer on Accord Party, the rights to challenge the provision of the Electoral Act (Amendment) Bill 2018.