Defection: Court summons Saraki, Dogara, Akpabio, 52 others

Defection: Court summons Saraki, Dogara, Akpabio, 52 others

- An Abuja court has summoned Senate president Bukola Saraki, Dogara, others over defection

- The federal lawmakers had dumped their former parties and defected to their new parties

- Saraki and others were asked by the court to appear before it to explain why they would not forfeit their seats in accordance with Section 68

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given Senate president Bukola Saraki, speaker House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, a former minority leader Godswill Akpabio and 52 others, a 30-day ultimatum within which to explain why they would not lose their seats at the National Assembly in accordance with Section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution.

Sahara Reporters reports that the lawmakers dumped their political parties to achieve their aspirations in their new parties ahead of 2019 general elections.

Legit.ng gathered that the court, in a suit initiated by an advocacy group—the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) said Saraki and 55 others must appear before it to explain why they would not forfeit their seats in accordance with Section 68 following their defection to other political parties.

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The court on September 14 had insisted that Saraki and other defendants should make appearance before it on or before October 12 on why they would not lose their seats at the National Assembly.

In the suit, LEDAP and its lawyer, Chino Edmund Obiagwu, had asked the court to declare Saraki and others’ seats vacant in accordance with Section 68 of the 1999 Constitution.

According to Obiagwu, Saraki, Dogara, Akpabio and 52 others had no business at the National Assembly on the grounds that the political party on which they were elected into the lawmaking house had been abandoned by them contrary to Section 68 of the Constitution.

Besides, LEDAP and Obiagwu asked the court to grant an order of mandamus to compel deputy Senate president, Ike Ekweremadu and Dogara to declare their seats and that of 52 others vacant with a view to allowing Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct bye-elections into the vacant seats.

They, however, asked the court to declare the following reliefs among others:

"A declaration that by virtue of Section 68 (I) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), any member of the National Assembly who resigns from the political party that sponsored his election into the National Assembly, before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, automatically loses his seat in the Assembly, unless saved by the exception under that section.

"A declaration that the 1st to 52nd defendant s are no longer members of the National Assembly and as such are no longer entitled to receive remunerations due to a member of the National Assembly and that any or such remunerations received by the 1st to 52nd defendants after the date of defection must be refunded to the Federal Government.

"A declaration that by virtue of the provisions of Section 57 of the Constitution and Section 8 (2) (d) of the Legislative Houses (Powers And Privileges) Act 2018, it is unconstitutional and a punishable offence for the1st to 52nd defendants to continue sitting as Senators and Honorable members of the National Assembly after defecting from the parties that sponsored their elections into the National Assembly.

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"A declaration that effective from the date of defection, any debate or motion before the National Assembly that any of the 151 to 52nd defendants participates in or votes on, is null and void.

"An order of mandamus, compelling the Deputy Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to declare the seats of 1st to 52nd defendants in their respective chambers vacant.

"An order directing the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct bye-elections in the federal constituencies and senatorial zones of the defendants within the time frame allowed under the Electoral Act.

"Specifically, LEDAP and Obiagwu asked the court to determine whether by virtue of Section 68 (I) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), any member of the National Assembly who defected from the party that sponsored his election into the National Assembly, before the expiration of the term for which he was elected would not automatically lose his seat in the Assembly, unless saved by the exception under that section?

"Other questions posed before the court by LEDAP and Obiagwu are whether by virtue of section 68(2) of the Constitution, the Deputy Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives are not bound by duty to declare the seats of the 1st to 52nd defendant s in the Senate and the House of Representatives as the case may be, vacant?

"Whether by virtue of the provisions of Section 57 of the Constitution, it is not an offence for the 1st to 52nd defendants to continue sitting and voting in the National Assembly, after resigning from the party that sponsored their elections into the National Assembly?

"Whether the Independent National Electoral Commission is under a legal obligation to conduct bye-elections in the senatorial zones and the federal constituencies of the defendants as the case may be, within the time frame provided under the electoral Act?

"LEDAP and Obiagwu had on 14th September 2018, approached the court to declare Saraki, Dogara, Akpabio’s seat vacant for defecting to other political parties.

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Sued also are Senators Dino Melaye, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Lanre Tejuoso, Shaaba Lafiagi, Rafiu Ibrahim, Barnabas Gemade, Abdulazeez Nyako, Monsurat Sunmonu, Usman Nafada, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Ibrahim Danbaba, Ubale Shittu, lsah Misau, Suleiman Azif and 45 others.

Meanwhile, Legit.ng had previously reported that Senate majority leader, Ahmed Lawan, assured the All Progressives Congress (APC) that the senators of the party would do everything within their powers to ensure the impeachment of Senate president Bukola Saraki.

Nigeria Latest News: Buhari Reacts To APC Senators’ Betrayal | - on Legit.ng TV

Source: Legit.ng

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