Court suspends judgment on suit seeking to sack Saraki, 55 others

Court suspends judgment on suit seeking to sack Saraki, 55 others

- An Abuja court has suspended judgement on suit seeking to sack Senate president Bukola Saraki and other lawmakers

- Saraki and 55 other lawmakers had last year defected from one party to others

- A group, LEDAP, had prayed the court to declare that they were no longer members of the National Assembly, having defected to other political parties before the expiration of their tenure

The Federal High Court, Abuja, has suspended delivery of judgment in a suit filed by an advocacy group, Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), seeking the sack of Senate president, Bukola Saraki, and 55 other lawmakers.

The Nation reports that LEDAP dragged Saraki and the 55 other lawmakers to court seeking a declaration that they were no longer members of the National Assembly having defected to other political parties before the expiration of their tenure.

Legit.ng gathered that the group, in their suit filed on September 14, 2018, prayed the court for an interpretation of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution.

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This was with regards as to whether any member of the National Assembly who resigns from the political party that sponsored his election before the expiration of the term for which he was elected, automatically loses his seat in the assembly.

The group was also seeking a declaration that the lawmakers were no longer entitled to receive any remuneration due to a member of the National Assembly and that any of such remunerations after their date of defection be refunded to the federal government.

LEDAP in the suit also prayed the presiding members of the National Assembly to declare vacant, the seats of the defectors. They had argued the matter in court with only a counsel to the Senate president being represented once while the other defendants never sent representation.

The court, being satisfied that the processes were served on all parties but they chose to disrespect the court and stay away, allowed the plaintiff to argue his case and fixed April 11 for judgment.

It was gathered that when the matter was called on Thursday, April 11, for judgement, counsel to Saraki and the other lawmakers, Mahmud Magaji, SAN, urged the court to tarry in delivering judgment to hear from the defence team in order to deliver a better informed judgment.

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He further challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter on the grounds that the plaintiffs had no “locus standi” to file the suit. According to him, they are only busy bodies and meddlesome interlopers.

The counsel to the plaintiff, Ede Uko, however, argued that the defendant’s counsel was only attempting to arrest the judgment of the court. He said it was not the fault of the plaintiff that the said counsel failed to appear in court again seeing that the defence had nothing to file but to concede to the claims of the plaintiff.

He prayed the court to discountenance and dismiss the application of the defendants and deliver the already prepared judgment not minding whose ox was gored.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, in a bench ruling said that although he agreed with the argument of the plaintiff’s counsel, delivering the prepared judgment would be a wrong exercise of the court’s discretion.

The judge also ruled that a fresh date will be given for judgement as soon as the defendants were heard. He adjourned the matter until April 12.

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Some of the other lawmakers involved as defendants are; senators Godswill Akpabio, Dino Melaye, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Lanre Tejuosho, Shaba Lafiaji, Barnabas Gemade, Abdulaziz Nyako among other senators and members of the House of Representatives.

Recall that a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had given 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.

Legit.ng had previously reported that the lawmakers dumped their political parties to achieve their aspirations in their new parties ahead of 2019 general elections.

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Source: Legit

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