A federal high court sitting in Lagos on Monday restrained the federal government from deploying soldiers for the general elections beginning on Saturday.
The court is likely to be disobeyed, even if the order is not vacated by a superior court before Saturday. Major cities like Lagos, Abuja, Kano and Port Harcourt may be garrisoned on Election Day.
The court held that there was no part of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which empowers the president of Nigeria to deploy soldiers for election purposes.
Justice Ibrahim Buba also held that “it is unconstitutional for the federal government to deploy military for the supervision of election purposes without the approval of the National Assembly.”
Delivering a judgement in a suit filed by a member of the House of Representatives and chieftain of All Progressives Congress Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, the judge declared the deployment of military for election as unconstitutional.
Gbajabiamila had gone to court challenging the power of the president to deploy soldiers for the elections.
Defendants in the suit were President Goodluck Jonathan, chief of defence staff, chief of army staff, chief of air staff, chief of naval staff and the attorney-general of the federation and justice minister.
The judge added that a careful perusal and research into all Nigerian laws would reveal that there was nowhere where it was stated that the president could single-handedly deploy the military for elections.
It is not for nothing that Nigeria is often described as a lawless nation.