Court Rejects Lawsuit to Halt Exams and Polls on Saturdays

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The Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed a suit on Wednesday that sought to stop the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) from conducting elections on Saturdays.

A member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Mr Ugochukwu Uchenwa, who is an elder of the church, brought the suit before the court and also requested the court to halt the conduct of examinations on Saturdays.

The plaintiff argues that scheduling elections and examinations on Saturdays violates his and other church members' right to freedom of worship.

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

The plaintiff alternatively requested the court to order the defendants to permit him and other church members to vote or take examinations on any day of the week, Sundays included.

The President, the Attorney-General of the Federation, INEC, and the Minister of Internal Affairs were cited as defendants in the suit.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Justice James Omotosho declared the suit frivolous, pointing out that the plaintiff did not justify why any of the reliefs requested should be approved by the court. 

The plaintiff failed to establish any reasonable cause of action in the matter, according to the court. 

The plaintiff, in his originating summons, specifically asked the court to declare that scheduling elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “sabbath day,” infringed upon his fundamental rights to freedom of worship.

Stating that It is a violation of conscience, profession, free practice of faith, and the right to participate freely in the government of the applicant and that of all members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Nigeria, he emphasized.

Alternatively, INEC could be ordered to designate a different day for church members to participate in their election if the elections cannot be scheduled and held on a day other than Saturdays.

The court denied the plaintiff's request for relief on Wednesday, which involved restraining the 5th to 8th respondents from conducting compulsory public examinations on Saturdays without offering Seventh-day Adventist Church members the option to take exams on other days.

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