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Seventh Day Adventist takes govt to court

A member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Ugochukwu Uchenwa has taken the Federal Government to the Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking an order to stop the conduct of elections on Saturdays.

Uchenwa, who is also an elder of the church is also seeking for an order of court to stop the conduct of examinations on Saturdays.

According to Uchenwa, fixing elections and examinations on Saturdays violates his right to freedom of worship as well as his right as a citizen. He prayed the court to declare fixing of elections and examinations on Saturdays as unconstitutional, NAN reports.

In the alternative, the plaintiff asked the court to order the defendants to allow him and other members of his church to vote or write examinations on any other day of the week including Sundays.

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.

When the matter was called on Thursday, only the counsel to the plaintiff, Benjamin Amaefule was present in court.

Amaefule told the court that the defendants had been served with the court process except NECO.

The lawyer told the court that he was at a loss as to why none of the defendants were in court.

The judge, Justice James Omotosho adjourned the matter until  March 15 for hearing and to allow the plaintiff serve NECO the court processes.

In the originating summons,  the plaintiff is praying the court for a declaration that the schedule of elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “Sabbath day” is a violation of his fundamental rights 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 right to freedom of education of the applicant and the members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church Nigeria.”

The plaintiff asked the court for an order restraining INEC from further violating the rights of member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church  by holding elections on Saturdays.

”In the alternative order INEC to mark out a different day for the members of the church to participate  in their own election if the 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 option for the members of the Seventh Day Adventist Church  to write their exams on days other than Saturdays.

Writing by Muzha Kucha