Court Stops Use of Soldiers for Elections

Reports

A new political development cropped up on Monday as a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos ruled against the use of soldiers in the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria.

The court specifically ordered the presidency to jettison the idea of involving or deploying soldiers for the elections as often promised by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Handing down the ruling, Justice Ibrahim Buba, who presided over the suit filed by Femi Gbajabiamila, a member of the House of Representatives for Surulere Federal Constituency 2 on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC) against President Goodluck Jonathan, the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief Of Army Staff, the Chief of Air Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Attorney General of the Federation, said it was unconstitutional to deploy the military for the supervision of elections.

He said the only way the military could act in elections is with the approval of the National Assembly.

Seni Adio, counsel to Gbajabiamila, had argued before the court that there was evidence that the military frustrated free movement, free access to the venue of elections as well as intimidated voters in of Osun, Ekiti, and Anambra states during the governorship elections in there.

According to Adio, it was not ideal to deploy the military to supervise elections in a democratic setting.

He appealed to the court to stop the presidency and the service chiefs from going ahead with the proclamation by Jonathan.

However, in his defence, Dele Adeshina, who is the counsel to the defendant, argued that the President was empowered, under Armed Forces Act, to make such deployment for the safety of lives and properties being the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces.

The argument was countered by Adio, who noted that the constitution of the country had more strength than the Armed Forces Act. The judge agreed with Adio in this regard.

An earlier ruling by the Federal High Court in Sokoto State had on 29th January 2015, ruled against the deployment of soldiers for the elections in a suit brought by the Deputy Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Bello Goronyo.

The judge also ruled that permission must be granted by the National Assembly for the military to be deployed in elections.