Court to Hear Suits against Change of Senate Leadership Sept 19

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja thursday fixed September 19 to hear the about six suits seeking to stop the planned removal of Bukola Saraki as Senate President.

All the suits want the court to declare as unlawful Saraki’s removal from office via means other than that provided in Section 50(2)(c) of the Constitution.

Section 50(2) provides: “The President or Deputy President of the Senate or the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives shall vacate his office…. (c) if he is removed from office by a resolution of the Senate or of the House of Representatives, as the case may be, by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that House.”

The September 19 hearing date was chosen yesterday by Justice Nnamdi Dimgba to enable parties file all necessary papers and prepare adequately.

The suits include: United Peoples Congress (UPC) vs. Attorney General of the Federation & four others (FHC/ABJ/CS/944/2018); Okpako Grant vs. All Progressives Congress & others (FHC/ABJ/CS/948/2018) and Senator Rafiu Adebayo & one other vs. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & others (FHC/ABJ/CS/872/2018).

Others are: Hon. Benjamin Tivfa vs. IGP & others (FHC/ABJ/CS/822/2018); The Incorporated Trustees of C.S.O.C.L.O. vs. Senator Bukola Saraki and others (FHC/ABJ/CS/936/2018); and Ikenga Imo Ugochinyere & another vs. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & others (FHC/ABJ/CS/890/2018).

UPC, in the suit filed by its lawyer, Chief M. A. Igwe, stated that there was need for a formal court’s pronouncement on the proper interpretation of the provision of the Constitution on the proper mode of changing the leadership of a federal legislative house.

In a supporting affidavit deposed to by its 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.

The UPC said it 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.

It added 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 wants the court to declare: “That the President of the Senate, the Deputy President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives can only be removed from office by the provisions of section 50(1) (a) and (b) and section 50 (2) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended and in particular, can only be removed by a resolution of that House by votes of members not less than two-thirds majority of ALL the members of that House.”

It also seeks a declaration “that the two-thirds majority for removal of President of the Senate, the Deputy President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives as provided in section 50(1) (a) and (b) and section 50 (2) (c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended refers to two-thirds of All members of that House and not two-thirds of members present at the sitting.”

Defendants in the suit are: the Attorney General of the Federation, National Assembly, President of the Senate, Speaker, House of Representatives and Clerk of the National Assembly.