Court dismisses suit seeking to stop elections and examinations on Saturdays

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

The plaintiff had contended that fixing elections and examinations on Saturdays violated his rights and that of other members of the church to freedom of worship.

Uchenwa prayed the court to declare the fixing of elections and examinations on Saturdays 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 sit for examinations on any other day of the week, including Sundays.

Listed as defendants in the suit were 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.

Others are the National Examination Council, the West African Examination Council, the National Business and Technical Examination Board, the Council of Legal Education and the Ministry of Education.

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Justice James Omotosho in his judgment held that the suit was frivolous, vexatious, irritating, and baseless.

Omotosho added that the fundamental rights being claimed by the plaintiff were not at large and could not be curtailed by a government policy.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church is in the minority in Nigeria and its doctrine could not be imposed on the majority of other religious denominations in the country,” he added.

Counsel for the plaintiff, Benjamin Ahaemefule, who spoke after the judgment said that his client was heading to the Court of Appeal to further test the law.

He noted that although his client had victory in some aspects of the suit, they lost in the main suit, hence the need to approach the appellate court.

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

“It 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.

“However, it 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,” he said.

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