Church member sues INEC for fixing polls on Saturdays

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A member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ugochukwu Uchenwa has sued INEC and other bodies for conducting elections and examinations on Saturday.

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday fixed May 22 to hear the suit.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church regards Saturday as the ‘sabbath day’ meant only for worshipping God.

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

Also joined as defendants were the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board; National Examination Council; West African Examination Council; and the National Business and Technical Examination Board.

The plaintiff is seeking an order restraining the 5th to 8th respondents from scheduling and conducting compulsory public examinations on Saturdays, without making an option for the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to take their exams on days other than Saturdays.

At the Wednesday proceedings, Justice James Omotosho granted the President and the AGF permission to regularise their processes filed to counter the suit.

The plaintiff, through his counsel, Benjamin Amaefule, is contending that conducting elections and examinations on Saturdays violated his fundamental rights to freedom of worship as a citizen and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

He said, “It is 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.

“It is also a violation of the right to freedom of education of the applicant and the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Nigeria.”

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

Alternatively, the plaintiff wants the court to order the defendants to allow him and other members of his church to vote or take examinations on any other day of the week, including Sundays.

The plaintiff is praying the court to restrain INEC from further violating the rights of members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by holding elections on Saturdays.