Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has described the National Assembly’s attempts to reorder the 2019 elections sequence as illegal
Falana says reordering of election sequence breaches several provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
The ace lawyer, therefore, called on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to ignore the National Assembly as its proposed law is dead on arrival.
The senior advocate in a statement said if the National Assembly can’t organise an election, it has no power to fix the sequence of an election.
Falana said, “As far as the constitution is concerned, the power of INEC to organise, undertake and supervise the elections, which has been interpreted to include the power to fix the dates for the general elections or determine the sequence of the elections, has not been altered in any material.
“It is the height of legislative absurdity to say that the power donated to INEC by the constitution shall be exercised in accordance with the provision of an interior legislation. In Attorney-General, Abia State v. Attorney-General of the Federation (2002) 1 WRN 1 at 45, Kutigi CJN (as he then was) held that ‘where the provision in the Act is within the legislative powers of the National Assembly but the constitution is found to have already made the same or similar provision, then the new provision will be regarded as invalid for duplication and/or inconsistency and therefore inoperative.
“The same fate will befall any provision of the Act which seeks to enlarge, curtail or alter any existing provision of the constitution. The provision or provisions will be treated as unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
“From the foregoing, it is submitted that the interference in the exercise of the powers of INEC to appoint dates for holding the general elections in Nigeria is illegal as the provision of the Electoral Bill, 2018 is inconsistent with Sections 76, 116, 132 and 178 of the constitution. To the extent of such inconsistency, the provision of the Electoral Bill is illegal, null and void as stipulated by Section 1(3) of the constitution.”
The senior advocate, however, added that some aspects of the Electoral Bill 2018 had the capacity to promote internal democracy and enhance the credibility of the electoral process.