Budget Feud: Court Declines to Hear Abdulmumin’s Suit

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has declined to hear two cases filed by a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriation Committee, Jubrin Abdulmumin, to stop the House from suspending him and to enforce his fundamental human rights.

Justice Okon Abang said Abdulmumin failed to comply with the provisions of Order 46 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009 which requires a litigant who wants his case heard during vacation to first apply and get the leave of court.

The court rules state that a plaintiff who files a suit during the court’s vacation must file an ex parte application showing facts that makes hearing of his case a matter of urgency.

Justice Abang said a new date for the hearing would be fixed as soon as the plaintiff files his motion seeking leave for his matter to be heard during vacation.

Effort by Abdulmumin’s lawyer, Mr. Abdulhamid Mohammed, to persuade the court to hear him out failed as Justice Abang stood his grounds.

The judge said: “A matter filed during court vacation is not heard as a matter of cause.
“The applicant is expected to apply and obtain the leave of court to have his matter herd during the court vacation in line with the provisions of Order 46 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009. I so hold.
“This applicant did not do so. I do not have jurisdiction to even grant an adjournment of this suit.

“It is expected that the applicant will do the needful to comply with the provisions of the rules of this court.”
Abdulmumin had filed two separate suits. The first suit FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2016 is against the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun and other principal officers of the lower chamber.
He asked the court to stop the plan to suspend him from the House.

In the other suit FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2016, which is for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights, the plaintiff sued the Police, the Inspector-General of Police, the Federal Capital Territory’s Commissioner of Police, Dogara, and other principal officers of the House as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Other principal officers of the House sued in the fundamental human rights enforcement suit are Lasun, Alhassan Dogura and Leo Ogor.

He urged the court to stop the respondents from violating his rights in the course of investigation of the alleged budget padding.
Abdulmumin’s lawyer told the judge that he intended to withdraw the fundamental human rights suit and urged the court to strike it out yesterday on the basis that “it has been overtaken by event.”
But the judge said the leave to have the matter heard during vacation having not been obtained, he lacked jurisdiction to strike it out.

“The court must have jurisdiction to entertain the matter first before it can have jurisdiction to strike it out.
“The applicant must do the needful to confer jurisdiction on the court to enable the court to take the application to withdraw the suit.”

In the suit FHC/ABJ/CS/595/2016 filed on August 9, 2016 and which the plaintiff wanted to sustain, Abdulmumin is asking the court to restrain the House and its principal officers from giving effect to their alleged plot to suspend him as member of the House.

He also seeks a declaration that the defendants are bound to comply with the provisions of sections 49, 54, 56 and 60 of the 199 Constitution and the Standing Orders of the House of Reps, regulating its sitting, procedure and other matters in the conduct of its legislative functions as provided in the Constitution and the Standing Orders made pursuant to the Constitution.

He also wants the court to declaration that the decision taken by the defendants at a meeting held on August 3, 2016 to suspend the plaintiff as a member of the House of Reps without granting him the right to fair hearing is unlawful.
Abdulmumin, an All Progressives Congress legislator, representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State, also filed an ex-parte motion, seeking among others, an other restraining the defendants from taking steps to suspend him pending the determination of the substantive suit.

The plaintiff stated in a supporting affidavit that immediately the 3rd -14th defendants (Dogara and other principal officers) got wind of the petitions he presented against them to the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Inspector General of Police, and others, they held meeting on August 3, 2016.

He stated that Dogara and others allegedly resolved during the meeting to suspend him immediately as member of the House.