• Speaker to court: dismiss case
In what seems a pre-emptive move, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has asked a Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain the House of Representatives from altering the composition of its leadership.
PDP, in a suit it filed on January 7, urged the court to, among others, restrain House of Representatives’ Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, other principal officers and defecting members from taking any step “to alter or change the leadership of the first defendant (PDP).”
The suit has the House, its Speaker, the Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha and other principal officers and former PDP members, who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), as defendants.
An officer of the PDP, Nanchang Ndam, said in a supporting affidavit that while the defection of some of the defendants was still a subject of litigation before Justice Mohammed, the defendants, particularly the Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, have issued threats to change the leadership of the House.
PDP also urged the court to declare that the defecting lawmakers, who are plaintiffs in the earlier suit before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the same court, “are not competent to sponsor, contribute or vote on any motion calling for the removal or change in the leadership of the House or the removal of any principal officers of the House.”
It prayed the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from altering or changing the House’s leadership.
The PDP equally filed an application for interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from altering the leadership of the House pendinga the determination of the substantive suit.
One of the defendants’ lawyers, Sebastine Hon (SAN), has urged the court to strike out the suit for want of jurisdiction.
In a notice of preliminary objection he filed yesterday for the 11th to 30th defendants, Hon claimed that the plaintiff lacked the locus standi to institute the suit; that the suit is not justiceable; that the court lacked the jurisdiction to dabble in the internal affairs of the House, and that the case amounts to an academic or hypothetical exercise.
He also filed a counter-affidavit to the plaintiff’s application for interlocutory injunction, challenging the competence of the application.
Last Friday, Justice Adeniyi Ademola refused an ex-parte application by the PDP, in which it sought to restrain the defendants from among others, altering the House’s leadership. He ordered the party to put the defendants on notice and adjourned till yesterday.
When the parties returned to court yesterday, defendants’ lawyers, Mohammud Magaji (SAN), James Ocholi (SAN) and Eric Apia objected to the move by the plaintiff’s lawyer, Yunus Usman (SAN), to argue his application for interlocutory injunction.
The lawyers argued that they were served last Friday and were entitled to 48 hours to reply. They sought for time to respond.
Justice Ademola granted the defendants’ request. He gave them up to January 16 to file their responses and serve the plaintiff. He adjourned the matter till January 20 for hearing of the application for interlocutory injunction.
Source: The Nation