A federal high court in Abuja has fixed May 22 to hear a suit seeking to stop the conduct of elections and examinations on Saturdays.
The suit was instituted by one Ugochukwu Uchenwa, a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, who submits that conducting elections and examinations on Saturdays infringes on his right to worship.
The Seven-day Adventist church holds its worship on Saturdays.
At the court session 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 a similar application by Benjamin Amaefule, the plaintiff’s counsel, and deemed their processes as duly filled and served.
James Omotosho, presiding judge, then adjourned the matter until May 22 for a hearing.
Listed as defendants in the suit are President Muhammadu Buhari, the AGF, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), and the minister of internal affairs.
Others include 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 is praying the court to declare the schedule of elections in Nigeria on Saturdays, the “Sabbath day” as a violation of 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,” the plaintiff submitted.
“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.”
In the alternative, the plaintiff is asking the court to direct INEC to mark a separate day for election specifically for members of the seven-day Adventist church.