Speakership: Court adjourns suit seeking removal of Gbajabiamila over alleged fraud

Speakership: Court adjourns suit seeking removal of Gbajabiamila over alleged fraud

- Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila is still facing stiff resistance after his emergence as the Speaker of the House of Representatives

- Civil society organisation, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) are against Gbajabiamila

- The group said the lawmaker should rather prove to all and sundry that he is indeed honourable by resigning his position

Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has adjourned the suit filed by a Civil society organisation, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), against Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila and other parties.

The suit which came up for further mention on Thursday, July 4, had Edward Omaga Esq. leading Joseph Nwaegbu Esq., Tersagh Unande Esq., John Obor Esq. and Abiodun Sodiq Babalola Esq. for the plaintiff.

It was however discovered that court processes from two different law firms headed by Ahmed Raji SAN and Kemi Pinheiro SAN, respectively, were filed on behalf of the embattled Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives.

It took the intervention of the presiding judge for lawyers from both law firms to agree as to who amongst the two renowned Senior Advocates of Nigeria was actually hired by Gbajabiamila to defend him in the suit.

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In the end, A. A. Usman Esq. announced appearance with E. J. Omosun for Gbajabiamila, having filed and served on parties a memorandum of conditional appearance alongside notice of preliminary objection challenging the suit on the ground of jurisdiction.

According to the written submission of counsel in support of notice of preliminary objection, the said issue of non-qualification of the 1st defendant to contest the 2019 general election as argued by GICN is a pre-election matter which ought to have been commenced and or concluded prior to the conduct of the said election.

They also argued that except pleadings are filed and oral evidence called, the originating summons procedure adopted by the plaintiff will be inadequate for an effectual determination of the suit.

On their part, the House of Representatives and clerk to the National Assembly who were sued as 2nd and 3rd defendants had in court Bukola Adeagbo (Mrs.) who informed the court that she equally filed a memorandum of conditional appearance alongside notice of preliminary objection on Wednsday, July 3 but served same on the plaintiff in open court shortly before commencement of the day's proceedings.

In his ruling, Justice Ekwo adjourned the suit to Monday, September 23 to enable parties join issues so that the matter can go into full hearing.

He directed that hearing notices be issued and served on the 4th, 5th and 6th defendants who were absent and unrepresented in court.

While briefing journalists after the court session, chief convener of the Coalition of Civil Society Organization for Justice and Equity, CCSO-JE, Comrade Olayemi Success reiterated that the coalition believes in the capacity of the judiciary to do justice to all manner of persons in Nigeria irrespective of social status, tribe or religion.

He urged the overwhelming population of Nigerians who are lovers of truth to stand against every form of impunity in high places of governance.

According to him, no nation across the world can develop under an atmosphere of corruption, fraud and absolute disregard for the rule of law.

His words: “Whatever positive thing you believe will catapult our dear country to the zenith of development, peace and stability at this crucial time, by all means stand up for it.”

Olayemi stated that Gbajabiamila should not drag the already dented image of Nigeria into the mud by remaining on the exalted seat of Speaker.

He said the lawmaker should rather prove to all and sundry that “he is indeed honourable by quietly resigning his position as Speaker because the whole world is watching and waiting for him to do so.”

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Meanwhile, the Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPILA) has expressed concern over the verdict of the Supreme Court which affirmed the victory of governor Gboyega Oyetola of the All Progressives Congress.

According to the organisation, by its action, the apex court has “substantially spat in the face of the Osun electorate and elevated technicalities against substantive justice.”

“It is only in a corrupt entity called Nigeria that the mistake of a judge in a case is ruled as the mistake of a litigant!,” the coalition added.

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