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Court Dismisses Suit Seeking to Stop Saturday Elections, Exams

A suit filed by an elder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ugochukwu Uchenwa, aiming to halt the scheduling of elections and examinations on Saturdays, has been dismissed by a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The plaintiff argued that setting elections and exams on Saturdays infringed upon his rights and those of fellow church members to freedom of worship.

Uchenwa requested the court to declare this scheduling unconstitutional. Alternatively, he asked for an order allowing him and other church members to participate in voting or exams on any other day, including Sundays.

The defendants in the case included the President, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Independent National Electoral Commission, and the Joint Admission and Matriculation Examinations, among others.

However, Justice James Omotosho, in delivering the judgment on Wednesday, dismissed the suit as frivolous, vexatious, irritating, and baseless.

He explained that the fundamental rights being claimed by the plaintiff were not up for curtailment by a government policy.

Omotosho noted that the Seventh-day Adventist Church, being a minority in Nigeria, could not impose its doctrine on the majority of other religious denominations in the country.

After the judgment, the plaintiff’s counsel, Benjamin Ahaemefule, stated that they intended to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal.

Ahaemefule mentioned that while they had some success in aspects of the suit, they lost on the main request, prompting the move to the appellate court.

He stated, “The court agreed with us that it has jurisdiction to hear our matter.

“The court also agreed with us that elder Uchenwa has the locus standi to institute the action for the enforcement of his fundamental rights and those of the entire members of the Seventh-day Adventist church Nigeria. “The court agreed with us that the rights of the Adventists are breached.

“The court, however, refused to enforce our right, saying that Adventists are in the minority and not in the majority. “The court held that although our rights are infringed upon, the infringement is legally necessary and justifiable.

“So the court refused to grant our substantive request because it said that granting it will open a flood gate of litigation by other citizens of Nigeria who will come out to enforce their own rights.

“The court erred in law, when it held that although the adventists have cause of action but that right can not be enforced because the Adventists are in the minority.”

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