Court Rules Against Deployment of Military For Elections

By Abdallah el-Kurebe

The Federal High Court sitting in Sokoto on Thursday ruled against the deployment of the military for elections security.

Judgement in the suit instituted against the Attorney General of the Federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), was delivered upon an Originating Summons dated October 22, 2014.

Justice Rilwan Mohammed granted the reliefs sought by Hon. Bello Goronyo and Hon. Umar Mode who are plaintiffs in the suit.

According to the ruling, the issues raised by the plaintiffs in the suit revolve around whether pursuant to sections 217(2), 218(1),(3),(4)(a) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and section 8(1)(3) of the Armed Forces Act, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can order the use of the Nigerian Armed Forces in the security supervision of elections in Nigeria without a legislation by the National Assembly.

Justice Mohammed further held that it is necessity for an existence of an act of the National Assembly that seeks to empower the president to deployment armed forces in any election process because such is a miscellaneous function.

The Judge held that since the principal functions of the Nigerian armed forces is clearly spelt out in section 217(2) of the constitution, “which are to maintain the territorial integrity of Nigeria and defend her from external aggression as well as securing its borders and to suppress insurrection, it is a usurpation of the functions of the police, which is the security outfit charged with maintenance of law and order in Nigeria.”

Delivering judgement, Justice Mohammed stated: “I hereby declare that in view of the combined provisions of sections 217(2) and 218(1) and (4) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) any person holding the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria cannot, in the absence of an act of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria unilaterally order the engagement of armed forces in the security supervision of elections in Nigeria.

“I hereby declare that any purported engagement of the Nigerian armed forces in the security supervision of elections in the federal republic of Nigeria by any person holding the office of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria without an act of the National Assembly shall be unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

“I hereby declare that the use of the word “officers” in section 29(1)(2) of the electoral act 2010 (as amended) does not entail the use of the officers of the armed forces by the 2nd defendant.

“I hereby make an order restraining any person holding the office of the president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria and the 2nd defendant from engaging or permitting the service of the Nigerian armed forces in the security supervision of elections in any manner whatsoever in any part of Nigeria, without an act of the National Assembly,” he ruled.

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