Twenty-four hours after a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos declared that President Goodluck Jonathan lacks the constitutional powers to deploy members of the Armed Forces for security reasons during elections, the federal government has appealed the judgement.
The government in a Notice of Appeal filed before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, is urging the appellate court to dismiss the judgement of the lower court and the entire suit for lack of merit.
Justice Ibrahim in a judgement on Tuesday held that there are no constitutional provisions to support the deployment of military officers to any part of the country for security reasons during elections.
The judge cited Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Armed Forces Act and stated that the sections did not give a role to the military during elections. He also maintained that Section 217 of the same Act can only apply when there is a disruption, insurrection or insurgence.
The suit was instituted by a member of the leader of opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila.
Joined as respondents alongside President Jonathan are the Attorney General of the Federation, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the Chief of Air Staff.
However, in a swift move, President Jonathan through his lawyer, Dele Adesina (SAN), yesterday filed six grounds of appeal wherein he asked the court to dismiss the judgement of the lower court and the entire suit for lack of merit.
The lawyer said that the judge’s decision did not represent the state of the law, adding: “particularly his lordship’s decision regarding the validity of the originating process is not correct”.
He also argued that the judge’s reliance on the election petition appeal relating to the issue of the deployment of troops will have to be tested on appeal.
According to the first ground of appeal, the trial judge erred by “dismissing the objection filed by the 1st and 6th Defendants and assumed jurisdiction when he held that the Plaintiff sought and obtained leave to issue and serve the Originating Summons outside Lagos State when indeed the grounds of the objection was noncompliance with the provisions of Section 97 of the Sheriff and Civil Process Act.”