Kogi Assembly Crisis: Court Orders Parties to Stay away from Sitting

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered parties in the suit of the Kogi State House of Assembly to stay away from the assembly, pending the determination of an application challenging the judgment of the court restoring the Speaker and other principal members of the house.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba gave the order yesterday to enable the respondents file their response to the application.
Justice Dimgba had in a judgment he delivered on June 19, 2016, reinstated the impeached Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal, the Deputy Speaker, Aliyu Akuh and seven other principal officers of the state House of Assembly, saying the process that led to their purported impeachment on February 16, 2016, was unconstitutional and illegal.

Aside the Speaker and his deputy, others the court also reinstated were Kolawole Mathew, Osiyi Godwin, Sunday Shigaba, Ndako Idris, Oluwatoyin Lawal, Musa Jimoh and Victor Omofaye.
He said their removal was not in line with the provisions of sections 90, 91, 92 (2) (c), 95 (1) & (2) and 96(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

The court voided the purported election of Umar Imam as the Speaker of the assembly, as well as the emergence of four others; Friday Sani; Lawal A.T. Ahmed; Bello Abdullahi and John Abah as principal officers of the assembly.
The court held: “The continued sitting and conduct of the affairs of the state House of Assembly by the 1st – 5th defendants after the purported removal of the 1st plaintiff and other principal officers of the House and purported installation of themselves as principal officers of the Kogi State House of Assembly on the 16th day of February, 2016, is illegal having regard to section 96(1) of the Constitution and Rule 5(1).”

Besides, it restrained the Inspector General of Police, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), which were 7th to 8th defendants in the suit, “from further barricading the assembly complex and preventing the plaintiffs from accessing the hallowed chambers of the Kogi State House of Assembly to conduct their legal and legitimate duties as legislators validly elected to represent their various constituencies.”

However, the defendants not satisfied with the judgment, took the matter to the Appeal Court.
The defendants had on May 23, 2016, filed an application before Justice Dimgba, seeking to set aside the judgment pending the determination of the appeal.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, counsel to the 1st to 10th plaintiff, Emeka Etiaba, told the court that they were served a further affidavit out of time and insisted they be given time to respond, adding that there were certain allegations in the affidavit that they had to disproof.
Etiaba while asking for the adjournment, also requested the court to grant an order restraining parties from going back to the house of assembly to sit.

He told the court that each time the court sits, the defendants still go back in total disregard of court and judgment of the court to sit, hence the need for the restraining order.
Responding, Justice Dimgba in a brief ruling, ordered parties in the suit to stay away from the assembly pending the hearing of the application or judgment of the court.

He also advised parties not to do anything that would undermine the judgment of the court or peace of the state, adding that the parties as representatives of the people must set good examples for those they represent.
The matter was then adjourned to June 28 for hearing of the application.