The last has yet to been heard on the faceoff between the National Assembly, NASS, and President Goodluck Jonathan concerning the legality of the 4th Alteration Bill for the amendment of the Constitution which the President declined to assent.
NASS, through its lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, has applied to the Supreme Court to have the case relisted for hearing before the expiration of the tenure of the current National Assembly.
In a surprise move, the Supreme Court, which had adjourned the matter till June 19 when the current National Assembly will have ceased to exist, has rescheduled the hearing of the case for today.
A copy of the new hearing notice which was obtained by our correspondent reads: “Take notice that the above motion will be listed for hearing before the Supreme Court of Nigeria sitting at Abuja on Monday 25th day of May 2015.
“And further take notice that in accordance with Order 2 Rule 1(2) of the Supreme Court Rules 1985, as amended, this notice is deemed sufficiently served on you if it is left at your address for service or sent by registered post and since the date of service by post is material, section 26 of the Interpretation Act, shall apply.”
NASS is asking the apex court to discharge the interlocutory order of injunction made on May 7, 2015 which barred the lawmakers from overriding the President’s veto.
In the application, Awomolo asked the court to dismiss the originating summons filed by the Attorney-General of the Federation on the grounds that:
“The originating summons dated 22nd April, 2015 is incompetent, fundamentally and incurably defective and thereby robs the Supreme Court of its jurisdiction.
“There is no known or reasonable cause of action disclosed in the originating summons to ground jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
“The originating summons filed by the plaintiff is an improper and or reckless invocation of the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court,” he said.
He further argued that the AGF was not competent to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under the Supreme Court (additional jurisdiction) Act.
While urging the court to hear the application, Awomolo said that the National Assembly was inaugurated on June 6, 2011 for a term of four years and that the four years lifespan of the 7th National Assembly would terminate on June 6, 2015 and the case would therefore become abated.
“It is in the interest of justice and the good people of Nigeria that this suit be given expeditious hearing and determination,” he added.
The Supreme Court had earlier stopped the National Assembly from going ahead to enact into law the Fourth Alteration Act which seeks to amend the 1999 Constitution.
The Chief Justice of Nigeria, who presided at the hearing of the suit, filed by the Federal Government to stop NASS from overriding President Jonathan’s veto of the amendments to the Constitution, warned the parties not to do anything that will affect the subject-matter of the suit.
The court consequently adjourned the case till June 18 when a new government would have come on board and the legislative session of the present NASS had expired.
The Supreme Court’s order then effectively killed the threat by NASS to go ahead to pass the amendments into law, thereby rendering the whole exercise which costs billions of naira futile.
To stop the National Assembly from going ahead to pass into the controversial amendments to the constitution, the Attorney-General of the Federation applied for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the lawmakers from taking any further step towards passing the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (Fourth Alteration) Act, 2015 into law pending the final determination of the suit earlier filed before the court.
The application, which was filed by counsel to the AGF, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN was brought pursuant to Order 3, Rule 14 of the Supreme Court Rules as amended.
The AGF premised the application on the grounds among others that the National Assembly was determined to proceed with passing the constitution by overriding the veto of same despite the fundamental nature of the issues raised against it.
When the case came up before the court, the CJN sought a clarification on whether the suit was properly instituted saying that the President should have filed the suit by himself and not through the AGF.
According to him, since the dispute is not between the Federal Government and the federating units, the proper person to file the case should be the President.
The justices of the court also sought to know whether it was right not to make states’ houses of assembly parties since they participated in the process that resulted in the amendments.
The court therefore adjourned the suit to June 18 for Ojo to address the court on whether the case was properly constituted.
But before the adjournment, the CJN said: “Parties should not do anything that will affect the subject matter of the suit.”