Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Federal High Court Abuja will Thursday commence hearing on a suit seeking court’s pronouncement on the process of removing presiding officers of the National Assembly.
The suit, filed by a newly registered political party, the United Peoples’ Congress (UPC), is specifically seeking a declaratory action to guide the party following, “several confusing interpretations being given to the issues raised for determination”.
However, when the matter came up on Tuesday, a vacation judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, after granting the prayers of the plaintiff that the matter be heard during vacation, ordered the plaintiff to serve the court processes on the defendants through substituted service.
Justice Dimgba subsequently adjourned to Thursday for hearing of the originating summons.
The UPC, in the suit dated and filed 31 August by its counsel, Chief M. A. Igwe, among others, is praying the court to determine between members of the National Assembly and political parties who has the power to elect and remove presiding officers of the National Assembly.
The plaintiff, in addition, wants the court to determine whether by provisions of the constitution, the presiding members can only be removed by a two-thirds majority of the House and not two-thirds of those present at the sitting.
In an 11-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the UPC National Chairman, Kenneth Ibe-Kalu, the plaintiff claimed that the determination of the suit would guide persons seeking election on its platform into the National Assembly as to their rights when elected as legislators as well as the rights of their party.
Ibe-Kalu disclosed that the plaintiff is already planning a retreat, which will be regular, for all its candidates for the 2019 elections, to let the candidates understand their rights and powers, including their rights and powers as sought to be declared by the court.
The deponent averred that: “As a registered political party, the plaintiff has a right to know the true position of the law as provided by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), as the provisions of the Constitution are not self-executory.
“That it is only a court set up under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) as this Honourable Court that has the power to interpret the Constitution”.
The plaintiff, in a motion exparte brought pursuant to the inherent jurisdiction of the court however, prayed for an order of court granting leave/fiat for the hearing of the suit by a vacation judge as well as an order granting leave of the court to abridge the time allowed by the rules for the hearing of the originating summons.
The exparte dated and filed 31 August by the UPC’s lawyer, Chief M. A. Igwe, is predicated on three grounds, one of which is that the subject matter of the suit may be defeated if the action is stayed till regular court resumes.
Those sued as defendants are: the Attorney General of the Federation, National Assembly, President of the Senate, Speaker, House of Representatives and Clerk of the National Assembly.