As Reps avoid debating court ruling on defection
Fears that the court opinion on the defected lawmakers would lead to a rowdy session was laid to rest as members chose not to broach the issue on the floor of the House. Our correspondent reports.
In the wake of the court pronouncement against 37 defected members of the House of Representatives by an Abuja High Court on Monday, most Nigerians had expected that the issue would dominate proceedings and other legislative businesses in the chamber of the House. On Tuesday and yesterday.
The ruling, which was delivered by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, said the defected lawmakers should not have any business doing in the National Assembly after they had left the party that sponsored them into the legislature.
Justice Ademola therefore said they should honourably resign from their positions having left the PDP under whose platform they won elections in 2011.
Ademola said “the defendants are, therefore, not competent to vote or contribute to any proceedings in the House of Representatives.”
There were indications that the ruling would lead to a rowdy session and a lot of drama on the floor of the House the following day with some of the PDP and APC lawmakers planning to bring the matter to the floor of the House.
Signs that Tuesday’s sitting might witness some drama emerged before the plenary as proceedings did not commence until at about 12 noon, about an hour late from the usual commencement time of 11.am.
This made the gallery at the chambers, where journalists and other guests sit to observe proceedings, to be filled to capacity as even some senior legislative aides and support staff were seen at the place waiting to see what would happen.
But contrary to expectations of most people at the gallery, members of the House maintained calm at the sitting.
As soon as the plenary commenced, the lawmakers went straight into their business of the day by debating some of the items listed on the Order Paper as no member raised any issue on the court ruling.
However, the sitting did not last long as is usually the case with most of the items on the Order Paper being stepped down for one reason or the other.
The lawmakers consequently adjourned plenary at about 1:05pm to continue with legislation till yesterday.
It was later learnt that the plenary was delayed because Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who had arrived the National Assembly complex at about 10:30.am, along with other principal officers had a pre-sitting meeting, where they resolved that no member should bring the matter to the floor.
Even yesterday’s sitting went on smoothly without any rancour or disruption from any lawmaker.
However, after Tuesday’s sitting, caucus of the opposition APC addressed a press conference where they said they have appealed the ruling by the High Court.
Minority whip, Rep Samson Osagie, who spoke at the press briefing said the affected members would not vacate their seats, as the court’s verdict was that the members could not effect leadership change in the House.
He said the judge went out of his mandate to grant an opinion that was never sought in the suit, which calls for a lot of concern.
“For the avoidance of doubt, let me state unequivocally on behalf our members that the import of yesterday (Monday) ruling was that our 37 members cannot participate in the removal of Principal Officers of the House nothing more, nothing less.
“Every other pronouncement by the Judge as to the status of our 37 members of the House were mere opinion. In any event, this judgment was given in vain and in ignorance of the House rules which governs the appointment of party leaders in the parliament,” Rep Osagie said.
He maintained that their initial fears and loss of confidence on the process “were further confirmed when the judge after granting the reliefs sought in the suit went ahead to render an opinion on issues that were not before him nor solicited by the plaintiffs.”
The appeal letter read thus: “In view of the judgement/ruling of the Court in the above suit delivered by Justice Ademola, on the 31 of March, 2014, our clients instructed us to proceed with an appeal.
“Consequently, we filed a Notice of Appeal dated 1st of April, 2014 challenging the judgement of the court in the above suit.”
The letter added that once an appeal is filed on any particular case, all matters related to the case must await the appeal judgment.
As the matter still remains fresh, there are still no signs as to whether any of the parties involved will raise any dust on the matter.
1. Aiyedun Akeem (Kwara) 2. Abdullahi Muhammad (Kwara) 3. Abdulmumin Jibrin (Kano) 4. Ahmed Audi Zarewa (Kano) 5. Alhassan Ado Doguwa (Kano) 6. Ali B. Ahmad (Kwara) 7. Aliyu Bahago (Kwara) 8. Aliyu Sani Madaki (Kano) 9. Aliyu Shehu (Sokoto) 10. Aminu Shehu Shagari (Sokoto) 11. Andrew Uchendu (Rivers) 12. Ogba EgbemAa (Rivers) 13. Baballe Bashir (Kano) 14. Abdullahi Salake (Sokoto) 15. George Ibietela Dawari (Rivers) 16. Isa Salihu (Sokoto) 17. Kabiru Marafa Achida (Sokoto) 18. Maurice Pronen (Rivers) 19. Zakari Mohammed (Kwara) 20. Moshood Mustapha (Kwara) 21. Mukhtar Muhammad (Kano) 22. Munnir Babba Danagundi (Kano) 23. Musa Sarkin-Adar (Sokoto) 24. Musa Tsamiya Ado (Kano) 25. Nasiru Sule Garo (Kano) 26. Ogbonna Nwuke (Rivers) 27. Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim (Kwara) 28. Sekonte Davies (Rivers) 29. Shuaibu Gwandu (Sokoto) 30. Sa’adu Nabunkari (Sokoto) 31. Umar M. Bature (Sokoto) 32. Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi) 33. Dakuku Adol Peterside (Rivers) 34. Mpigi Barinada (Rivers) 35. Mustapha Bala (Kano) 36. Aminu Suleiman (Kano) 37. Nasiru Sani Zangon-Daura (Katsina)