Supreme Court Yesterday Ordered The Federal Government And The National Assembly To Maintain Status Quo On The Ongoing Constitution Amendment Process, A Decision Yet To Be Served The Legislature.
Tony Ailemen, Teddy Nwanunobi and Akande Adeyemi, Abuja
After a protracted battle over plans to amend the 1999 Constitution by the National Assembly, Supreme Court yesterday stopped the National Assembly from overriding President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto. The Supreme Court thus has prevented the current National Assembly from going ahead to enact into law the Fourth Alteration Act which seeks to amend some sections of the 1999 constitution. The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, who presided over the case, at the hearing of the suit filed by the Federal Government to stop the NASS from overriding President Goodluck Jonathan’s veto on amendments to the constitution, specifically warned the parties not to do anything that will affect the subject matter of the suit.
The court consequently adjourned the suit to June 18 when a new government will have come on board and the legislative session of the present NASS would have ended. The Supreme Court’s order has effectively killed the threat by the NASS to go ahead to pass the amendments into law thereby rendering the whole amendments process which gulped billion of Naira a wasted exercise. In order to stop the National Assembly from going ahead to put some controversial amendments into 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 the 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 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 should be the president.