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Court to Deliver Judgment in Suit Seeking to Stop Elections from Holding on ‘Saturday

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Wednesday, fixed March 20 to deliver judgment in a suit filed by a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mr Ugochukwu Uchenwa seeking to stop the conduct of elections and examinations on Saturdays.

Justice James Omotosho fixed the date after listening to counsel’s arguments for and against the suit.

The plaintiff, Uchenwa, who is an elder of the church, filed the suit on the grounds that fixing elections and examinations on Saturdays violated his rights and that of other members of the church, to freedom of worship.

He is praying the court to declare the fixing of elections and examinations on Saturdays as unconstitutional.

In the alternative, the plaintiff, prayed the court to order the defendants to allow him and other members of his church to vote or write examinations on any other day of the week including Sundays.

Listed as defendants in the suit are the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Others, are the Joint Admission and Matriculation Examinations, JAMB, the National Examination Council, NECO, West African Examination Council, WAEC, the National Business and Technical Examination Board, Council of Legal Education and the Ministry of Education.

At Wednesday’s hearing, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Benjamin Amaefule told the court that his client was only seeking an enforcement of his fundamentals right to freedom of education and freedom to participate in elections.

Amaefule told the court that his client was seeking among others, a declaration that the schedule of elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “Sabbath day”, was a violation of his fundamental rights to freedom of worship.

“It is also a violation of conscience, profession and free practice of faith and right to participate freely in the government of the applicant and that of entire members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Nigeria”.

He maintained that fixing examinations and elections on the “Sabbath day of the Lord ”, was also a violation of right to freedom of education of the applicant and the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Nigeria.

The plaintiff asked the court for some reliefs including a declaration that the actions of the 5th to 8th respondents fixing examinations on Saturdays, a “Sabbath day of the Lord” was unconstitutional.

“It is a violation of the fundamental rights of freedom of conscience, profession and free practice of faith of the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Nigeria”.

He prayed the court for an order restraining INEC from further violating the rights of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by holding elections on Saturdays.

“In the alternative, order INEC to mark out a different day for the members of the church to participate in their own election if the INEC cannot schedule and hold the elections on a day other than on Saturdays”.

“An order restraining the 5th to 8th respondents from scheduling and conducting compulsory public examinations on Saturdays, without making option for the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to write their exams on days other than Saturdays.

“An order mandating the 10th respondent to cease from conducting any academic programme or activities on Saturdays, the Sabbath day of the Lord without giving members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church a different day to participate in such academic activities by itself or through any of its department.”

The plaintiff also asked the court to make an order mandating the 1st and 2nd respondents (the President and the AGF) to declare Saturdays as public holiday just the same way Sundays are public holidays.

Moreover, he insisted that Sunday was the first day of the week while Saturday was the seventh day of the week, hence the Sabbath day.

Responding on behalf of the President and the AGF, Maimuna Shiru told the court that she filed a 17- paragraph affidavit on behalf of her client in opposition to the suit.

She prayed the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.

For his part, counsel to WAEC, Mr Friday Chorio argued that Nigeria was a circular state as it had not adopted any religion as its own.

According to Chorio, the constitution provides that Nigeria shall not adopt any religion as its own.

“In this circumstance, the plaintiff is seeking for an interpretation of the law that Saturday should be fixed as a holy day for the Seventh-day Adventist church.

“We have so many laws that provide for holidayw. Section 4 of the Public Holiday Act provides and declares Sunday as a public holiday so government activities cannot take place on Sundays.

“Anybody can adopt Sunday as his or her own holiday so you cannot come to court and ask the court to declare Saturday as a public holiday.”

For the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board, (JAMB), Safinat Lamidi told the court that she filed a preliminary objection praying the court to dismiss the suit as it lacked the jurisdiction to entertain it.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, INEC, NECO, National Business and Technical Board, Council for Legal Education and the Ministry of Education were all absent in court as no counsel announced appearance on their behalf.

However, Justice Omotosho having confirmed that they were duly notified of the hearing date proceeded to hear the matter and subsequently fixed March 20 for judgment.(NAN)

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NEWS

Gowon Urges ECOWAS Leaders to Lift Sanctions on Mali, B’Faso, Others

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Former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has called on ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, to lift sanctions on Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic.

Gowon, who is one of the founding fathers of ECOWAS, made the call in an open letter to the Heads of State and the ECOWAS member states in Abuja on Wednesday evening.

The three countries, which were slammed with sanctions by the sub-regional politico-economic bloc following military takeovers in their respective countries, recently declared their decision to withdraw from the bloc.

Addressing a press conference at the ECOWAS Commission’s headquarters, Gowon, expressed concern that the decision by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger Republic to exit ECOWAS threatened the unity of the bloc with far-reaching implications for ordinary citizens.

He said: “It saddens me to learn that ECOWAS is threatened with disunity following the announcement by Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – three important Member States, of their intention to leave the Community.

“The impact of such a decision will have far-reaching implications for the ordinary citizens who have been the major beneficiaries of regional integration.

“The ECOWAS authorities should immediately consider the implementation of the lifting of all sanctions that have been imposed on Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger.”

Gen. Gowon also urged the West African leaders, including leaders of the three exiting countries, to re-unite for peace and stability in the region.

“Therefore, on behalf of all the founding fathers of the Community and myself, I urge the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, including the leaders of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, to put aside their differences and reunite for the peace, stability and prosperity of our sub-region,” he added.

Reports says that the former Nigerian leader also presented the open letter to the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray. (NAN)

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Senate to Investigate Cement Coys on Hike in Price

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The Senate has resolved to investigate the sudden hike in the price of cement by its producers in Nigeria.
The followed the adoption of a point of order by the Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Lola Ashiru on the “Need to Urgently Address the Increase in Cement Price and other Building Materials in Nigeria,” at plenary on Wednesday.

Presenting the order, Ashiru urged the Senate to mandate its Committee on Industries to conduct an investigation into the activities of cement manufacturing industries operating in Nigeria.

This, he said was with a view to ascertain the reasons behind the price hike.

He also urged the Senate to mandate the Committee on Industries to ensure that cement manufacturing companies adhered strictly to fair market practice and desist from anti-competitive practice.

Ashiru said that the construction industry was vital to infrastructure development adding that the building industry heavily depended on cement and other building materials for its sustenance.

He said that the trend of a daily increase in the price of the product had hampered progress in various developmental endeavours across the country.

”This is because key building materials particularly cement and iron rod prices are now sold at prohibitive rates with cement and iron rod recently rising from N5, 500 per bag in Jan. 2024 to about N14, 000 and N8,500 to N17, 000 respectively,” he said.

He also said that the sudden price increase has had a detrimental impact on critical infrastructure, and housing in the country.
Ashiru said that the raw materials for cement were being sourced 100 per cent locally and not imported making the sudden surge in price suspicious and perplexing.

“Cognisant that affordable cement and other building materials are indispensable to national development, addressing the issue in time will be advantageous to the construction industry.

“This is because it will ensure the progress of constituency projects and strengthen national security by providing jobs and stability and improve the livelihood of Nigerians generally,” he said. (NAN)

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Kidnaping: Police in Adamawa Nab 3 Suspects, Rescue 16-yr-old Female Victim

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The Police Command in Adamawa, says its operatives, in collaboration with Hunters in Gombi Local Government Area (LGA), have arrested three suspected kidnappers, and rescued a 16 year-old female victim.

SP Suleiman Nguroje, the command’s spokesperson, who disclosed this in a statement in Yola on Wednesday, said the operation was carried out by its Crack Squad.

Nguroje said that the operation was launched following a tip-off, and the operatives stormed a kidnapping den at Fotta village of Gombi.

“The suspects were all arrested at a certain house in a remote side of Fotta Village, where they camped their kidnapped female victim and demanded N8,000,000 ransom.

He said the victim, name withheld, was kidnapped three days ago, from Buma Village, Shani LGA of Borno State.

According to the statement, the victim is currently receiving medical attention at an undisclosed health facility.

Nguroje stated that the Commissioner of Police, CP Dankombo Morris, had assured the public that there would be no hiding place for criminals as they would be fished out from anywhere within the state.

He called on members of the public to give timely information to the Police, especially those with questionable character. (NAN)

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