De­fec­tions... Court tells 37 APC Reps to va­cate seats

Law­mak­ers: This strange rul­ing can’t stand

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

A Federal High Court in Abuja yes­ter­day asked 37 House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives mem­bers to va­cate their seats for de­fect­ing from the rul­ing People’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) to the op­po­si­tion All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC).

De­liv­er­ing judge­ment in the case in­sti­tuted by the PDP, Jus­tice Adeniyi Ade­mola said the law­mak­ers no longer had any busi­ness in the leg­is­la­ture, hav­ing moved to an­other po­lit­i­cal party while their ten­ure had yet to ex­pire.

The PDP filed the case in Jan­uary, seek­ing to res­train the House from al­ter­ing the com­po­si­tion of its lead­er­ship. The case was brought fol­low­ing the de­fec­tion of 37 leg­is­la­tors on De­cem­ber 18.

Jus­tice Ade­mola yes­ter­day also is­sued a per­pet­ual in­junc­tion re­strain­ing the de­fec­tors from ef­fect­ing any lead­er­ship change in the House.

“Hav­ing pe­rused the ar­gu­ments of coun­sel and the

con­sti­tu­tional pro­vi­sions, it is clear and un­am­bigu­ous that the de­fen­dants were spon­sored by the PDP and won the elec­tion on its plat­form,” he said.

“It is also the court’s opin­ion that their ten­ure has not ex­pired and there is no di­vi­sion in the PDP.

“The de­fen­dants are, there­fore, not com­pe­tent to vote or con­trib­ute to any pro­ceed­ings in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“An or­der of per­pet­ual in­junc­tion is, hereby, or­dered, re­strain­ing them from al­ter­ing or at­tempt­ing to change the lead­er­ship of the House of Reps.”

The 37 de­fec­tors af­fected by yes­ter­day’s judg­ment in­clude Nasiru Sule Garo, Ah­mad A. Zarewa, Aliyu Sani Madaki, Bashir Ba­balle, Al­has­san Ado Doguwa, Man­nir Babba Dan-Agundi, Aminu Suleiman Goro, Ab­dul­mu­min Jib­rin, Musa Ado Gezawa, Mustapha Bala Dawaki and Mukhtar Ciro­mawa, all from Kano.

Also af­fected are Sokoto law­mak­ers Kabiru Marafa Achida, Aminu Sha­gari, Isa Sal­ihu Bashir, Ab­dul­lahi Moh’d Wam­mako, Sa’adu Nabunkari, Aliyu Shehu, Shuaibu Go­bir, Musa Sarkin’adar, Ab­dul­lahi Balarabe Salake and Umar M. Ba­ture. But Ba­ture had later in Jan­uary re­joined the PDP.

De­fec­tors from Rivers are Andrew Uchendu, Asita Hon­ourable, Sokonte Davies, Dakuku Peter­side, Mpigi Bari­nada, Pro­nen Mau­rice, Dawari Ge­orge and Og­bonna Nwuke.

Also af­fected are Ali Ah­mad, Rafi’u Ibrahim, Aiye­dun Akeem, Mustapha Mas­hood, Aliyu Ah­man Patigi and Zakari Mo­hammed from Kwara, as well as Yakubu Dog­ara (Bauchi) and Nasiru Sani Zan­gon Daura (Katsina).

Per­pet­ual in­junc­tion

The PDP case was filed on Jan­uary 7 fol­low­ing the de­fec­tion of 37 of its law­mak­ers to the APC on De­cem­ber 18.

The de­fec­tors had claimed their new party was now in the ma­jor­ity and there­fore the lead­er­ship of the House should be held by them.

In ar­gu­ing the orig­i­nat­ing sum­mons, PDP coun­sel Mr Yunus Us­man, SAN faulted the de­fec­tions, say­ing that the leg­is­la­tors de­fected dur­ing the de­pen­dency of a judg­ment.

He ar­gued that by virtue of the Oc­to­ber 2013 judg­ment of Jus­tice Evoh Chukwu, which said there was no di­vi­sion in PDP, the mat­ter had been laid to rest. The de­fec­tors had based their ac­tion on the premise that PDP was di­vided and they be­longed to the fac­tion that merged with the APC.

Us­man said also that by virtue of the pro­vi­sion of Sec­tion 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion, the law­mak­ers ought to have va­cated their seats im­me­di­ately.

Coun­sel to the de­fen­dants, Mr Mah­moud Ma­gaji, SAN, had in his sub­mis­sion, ar­gued that it was wrong for the PDP to have sought to res­train its for­mer mem­bers from ac­tiv­i­ties of the as­sem­bly for de­fect­ing.

Other de­fence coun­sel, Mr Niyi Ak­in­tola, SAN, Mr Se­bas­tian Hon, SAN, Mr James Ocholi,SAN, Mr Abio­dun Owonikoko, SAN, and Jib­ril Okutepa, SAN, had prayed the court to dis­miss the suit.

The de­fected law­mak­ers yes­ter­day said they would chal­lenge the judge­ment at the Court of Ap­peal.

In the case, the PDP sued the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and joined as de­fen­dants all the prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers of the House and the 37 de­fected law­mak­ers.

Dur­ing the hear­ing of the suit, Speaker of the House Aminu Tam­buwal had joined the APC law­mak­ers in ask­ing that the suit be dis­missed for want of dili­gent prose­cu­tion.

Jus­tice Ade­mola held that the Orig­i­nat­ing Sum­mons is jus­ti­cia­ble and hence the court has ju­ris­dic­tion to en­ter­tain the suit. He said where the fun­da­men­tal right of any per­son is at the stake, the court has the power to in­ter­vene.

He held that in view of the pro­vi­sion of Sec­tion 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion, the de­fen­dants can­not ef­fect changes in the lead­er­ship of the House.

Jus­tice Ade­mola also said the de­fen­dants can­not vote to re­move the lead­er­ship of the house and also can­not spon­sor a mo­tion to that ef­fect.

The court there­fore granted an or­der of per­pet­ual in­junc­tion re­strain­ing the de­fen­dants from ef­fect­ing change in the House lead­er­ship.

Yes­ter­day’s rul­ing rep­re­sents an­other set­back for the de­fec­tors and the op­po­si­tion APC, which surged to­wards wrest­ing con­trol of the Na­tional As­sem­bly from the PDP in De­cem­ber.

On Fri­day, a sep­a­rate court had struck out their case in which they sought for a stop at at­tempts to de­clare their seats va­cant. That court said, though, that the PDP had no pow­ers to re­move the de­fec­tors from their seats.

The rul­ing yes­ter­day also has im­pli­ca­tions for the 11 sen­a­tors who left the PDP for APC.

*Umar Ba­ture from Sokoto State re­joined the PDP back in Jan­uary, say­ing the anom­alies that made him de­fect had been cor­rected.

PHOTO Oladipupo Odunewu

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.