The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court Abuja has fixed May 22 to hear a suit filed by Ugochukwu Uchenwa of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, seeking to stop the conduct of elections and examinations on Saturdays.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the court granted an application by Osasogie Uwaifo, counsel to the federal government and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), for an extension of time to regularise their processes.
The court also granted the same application by the plaintiff’s counsel, Benjamin Amaefule, and deemed their processes as duly filled and served.
The judge, James Omotosho, then adjourned the matter until May 22 for a hearing.
Listed as defendants in the suit are; President Muhammadu Buhari, 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), and the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NBTEB).
The plaintiff, Mr. Uchenwa, contends that fixing elections and examinations on Saturdays violates his right to freedom of worship and his right as a citizen.
He prayed the court declare the fixing of elections and examinations on Saturdays unconstitutional.
In the alternative, the plaintiff asked the court to order the defendants to allow voting or writing of examinations on any other day of the week, including Sundays.
In the originating summons, the plaintiff is praying to the court for a declaration that the schedule of elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “Sabbath day”, violates his fundamental right 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.
“A declaration that the actions of the 5th to 8th respondents fixing examinations on Saturdays, a ‘Sabbath day of the Lord’ 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.
“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,” the plaintiff said.
The plaintiff asked the court for an order restraining INEC from further violating the rights of the Seventh-day Adventist Church members by holding elections on Saturdays.
“In the alternative order, INEC to mark out a different day for members of the church to participate in their own election if 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 an option for the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to write their exams on days other than Saturdays.