Court rul­ing and moral­ity of 37 de­fec­tors’ stay in House

Last week’s court rul­ing on the 37 mem­bers of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives who de­fected from the PDP to the APC on De­cem­ber 18, 2013 did not go down well with those af­fected, while some have ad­vised that they should com­ply with the rul­ing. Which way to go

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Musa Ab­dul­lahi Kr­ishi

The court rul­ing de­liv­ered by Jus­tice Adeniyi Ade­mola of a Federal High Court Abuja, said the 37 law­mak­ers who de­fected from the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP) to the All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) should have no busi­ness in the House of Rep­re­sen­taives hav­ing left the party that spon­sored them to win elec­tions to the House.

While giv­ing the rul­ing, Ade­mola said, “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.

“The 12th to 53rd de­fen­dants in this suit have no busi­ness stay­ing in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and ought to re­sign or re­lin­quish the man­date of the 4th de­fen­dant or re­sign hon­ourably.

“In view of the pro­vi­sion of Sec­tion 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion, the 12th to 53rd de­fen­dants can­not ef­fect lead­er­ship change in the House. The 12th to 53rd de­fen­dants can­not law­fully vote to re­move the lead­er­ship of the House. They can­not also spon­sor mo­tion to that ef­fect.

“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,” he said.

Penul­ti­mate Fri­day, a sep­a­rate court had ruled that the PDP had no pow­ers to re­move the de­fec­tors from their seats and struck out the case.

The rul­ing may have pre­sented a set­back for the de­fec­tors and the op­po­si­tion APC, but the party and its law­mak­ers quickly rose to the oc­ca­sion, al­leg­ing that it was a “black mar­ket or­der” and sub­se­quently ap­pealed the mat­ter.

APC cau­cus in the House also ad­dressed a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day in Abuja where it said the mat­ter has been ap­pealed.

Mi­nor­ity whip, Rep Sam­son Osagie, who spoke on be­half of the cau­cus, said none of the af­fected law­mak­ers would va­cate his seat as the court rul­ing only re­strains them from mak­ing lead­er­ship change in the House.

He said Jus­tice Ade­mola 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 of our mem­bers that the im­port of yes­ter­day’s (Mon­day’s) 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,” Osagie said.

He said 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.”

“For us in the APC, we were not sur­prised be­cause in the course of the pro­ceed­ings, the same judge had ear­lier is­sued a preser­va­tive or­der as soon as the ar­gu­ments against his ju­ris­dic­tion in the case was taken. This was our first ap­pre­hen­sion of the com­mence­ment of the case,” he said.

The ap­peal let­ter ob­tained by Daily Trust read: “In view of the judg­ment/rul­ing of the court in the above suit de­liv­ered by Jus­tice Ade­mola, on the 31st 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 judg­ment of the court in the above suit,” it said.

The let­ter added that once an

The rul­ing may have pre­sented a set­back for the de­fec­tors and the op­po­si­tion APC, but the party and its law­mak­ers quickly rose to the oc­ca­sion, al­leg­ing that it was a “black mar­ket or­der” and sub­se­quently ap­pealed the mat­ter

ap­peal is filed on any par­tic­u­lar case, all mat­ters re­lated to the case must await the ap­peal judg­ment.

But the ques­tion many Nige­ri­ans are ask­ing is whether the law­mak­ers will based on the moral is­sue raised, do what the court opined, that is to “re­sign hon­ourably,” or they will stay put to en­sure the Con­sti­tu­tion is fol­lowed to the let­ter.

One of the af­fected mem­bers, Asita Hon­ourable, who re­sponded to a ques­tion on the mat­ter said they have the right both morally and con­sti­tu­tion­ally to re­main on their seats.

“There is no is­sue here. All that the court did was to stop any lead­er­ship change in the House. No judge has the right to say we don’t have the moral or con­sti­tu­tional right to re­main. The judge went into a mat­ter that was never can­vassed be­fore him. In fact, I’ll ask, and I’m in­deed ask­ing, that be­fore any­body is ap­pointed as a judge in this coun­try, his men­tal ca­pa­bil­ity should be tested first,” said.

Mi­nor­ity leader, Femi Gba­jabi­amila, had in the wake of the rul­ing de­scribed it as a “strange judg­ment that turned law on its head.”

He said in a state­ment that “the judg­ment is a prod­uct of er­ror of court as. No per­son can be com­pelled by law to stay in an as­so­ci­a­tion against his or her wishes.”

He said, “Sec­tion 68 was never ar­gued in court by any of the par­ties. The judge gave an opin­ion he was never asked to give and an ar­gu­ment that was never can­vassed be­fore him.

“It negates a fun­da­men­tal right of as­so­ci­a­tion of ev­ery cit­i­zen that is in­alien­able. Sec­tion 68 of the Con­sti­tu­tion has been turned on its head and the er­ror of the court is man­i­fest,” he said.

The af­fected law­mak­ers also said the judg­ment would ridicule the rep­u­ta­tion of the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary, say­ing the judge “erred” in giv­ing the or­der.

Rep Ali Ahmed from Kwara State, said the judg­ment could not with­stand an ap­peal, say­ing if such continues, there would be more tur­bu­lence in the ju­di­ciary.

“As a party to the mat­ter, I may be par­ti­san. But I am sure ev­ery Nige­rian must be alarmed at this judg­ment. Of course it can­not with­stand an ap­peal, but the is­sue is if trial courts con­tinue to be­have this way, I hope we should be pre­pared for more tur­bu­lence in the ju­di­ciary,” he said.

An­other af­fected law­maker, Rep Aliyu Sani Madaki (APC, Kano) said the judge­ment was de­liv­ered in bad taste to ridicule the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary.

“This is what we’ve been say­ing. We’ve seen this even be­fore now. It’s a black mar­ket judge­ment that can­not ob­tain any­where. It will surely ridicule the Nige­rian ju­di­ciary. You can’t have such a rul­ing when an­other court said last Fri­day that the PDP doesn’t have any­thing to do on the mat­ter.

“Be­sides, the judge went out­side the prayers con­tained in the orig­i­nal suit, which shows that it is purely a black mar­ket or­der to favour PDP. PDP is des­per­ate and the judges are not help­ing mat­ters. This kind of judge­ment shouldn’t have come from any learned per­son. We will ap­peal it,” he said.

Sim­i­larly, coun­sel to the 37 law­mak­ers, Mah­mud Abubakar Ma­gaji (SAN), told our re­porter on phone last night that the judge “dab­bled into an­other mat­ter that was never sought in the suit.”

He said “We have 30 days to ap­peal, but we’ll do that within this week. The judge erred. In fact, it was af­ter he gave the rul­ing that was never sought for that he re­al­ized what he did and quickly turned to say that the law­mak­ers could not ef­fect any lead­er­ship change in the House, which was the prayer of the suit.”

How­ever, deputy ma­jor­ity leader of the House, Leo Ogor, said the 37 law­mak­ers should not “waste their re­sources on ap­peal” as they have al­ready lost the mat­ter.

“The seats they oc­cupy be­long to PDP. It is not an in­di­vid­ual seat but that of the party. We were more than con­vinced that the court will do the right thing be­cause you do not need a rocket sci­en­tist to in­ter­pret Sec­tion 68 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

“My col­leagues should not bother to waste their time and re­sources on ap­peal. I’ve al­ways em­pha­sised this po­si­tion that you can­not reap where you did not sow, our party has demon­strated that it re­spects the law of the land,” he said.

As things con­tinue to un­fold, it is left to be seen if the law­mak­ers will fol­low the path of con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity or moral­ity to stay put or re­sign as opined by the court.

Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal Femi Gba­jabi­amila

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.