The Federal High Court, in Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to stay the execution of its judgment reinstating the impeached Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, Hon. Momoh Jimoh Lawal.
The judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that the tenure of the law-makers is limited and time-bound, therefore, staying the execution of the court judgment by the factional leadership of the House would be aiding those who wanted to waste the time.
Five law-makers, led by Umar Imam, who carried out the impeachment and had benefited from the purported exercise that removed the Speaker and other principal officers had approached the court.
Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, had in his judgment, equally restored the Deputy Speaker, Aliyu Akuh and seven other Principal Officers of the Kogi State House of Assembly, saying the process that led to their purported impeachment on February 16, 2016, was unconstitutional and illegal.
He held that their removal was not in line with provisions of Sections 90, 91, 92 (2) (c), 95 (1) & (2) and 96 (1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Consequently, the court voided the purported election of Umar Imam as the Speaker of the Kogi State House of Assembly, as well as the emergence of four others: Friday Sani; Lawal A.T. Ahmed; Bello Abdullahi and John Abah; as principal officers of the House.
Aside the Speaker and his Deputy, others that the court also reinstated were Kolawole Mathew, Osiyi Godwin,Sunday Shigaba, Ndako Idris, Oluwatoyin Lawal, Musa Jimoh and Victor Omofaye.
The court held that, “The continued sitting and conduct of the affairs of the Kogi State House of Assembly by the 1st – 5th defendants after the purported removal of the 1st plaintiff and other principal officers of the House and purported installation of themselves as principal officers of the Kogi State House of Assembly on the 16th day of February, 2016, is illegal having regard to section 96(1) of the Constitution and Rule 5(1)”.
Besides, it restrained the Inspector-General of Police, Director General of the Department of State Service, Commandant of the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, who were 7th to 8th defendants in the suit, “from further barricading the Assembly complex and preventing the plaintiffs from accessing the hallowed chambers of the Kogi State House of Assembly to conduct their legal and legitimate duties as legislators validly elected to represent their various constituencies”.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the applicant led by Umar Imam filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the lower court.
They also brought an application before the Federal High Court seeking for stay of execution of the judgment pending the hearing and determination of the appeal.
Others affected by the judgment of the Federal High Court are Friday Sani, Lawal A.T. Ahmed; Bello Abdullahi and John Abah.
Ruling, on Tuesday, on the application for stay, Justice Dimgba held that having delivered judgment on the case, he is fontious Officio (his hands are tight) to grant the reliefs sought by the applicants.
He further held that granting their prayers would amount to giving justice on the one hand and taking it away with the other.
Besides, the judge held that the tenure of the law-makers was limited and time-bound, and, therefore, granting the reliefs sought by the factional leadership of the House would be aiding those who wanted to waste their time.
The impeached Speaker, his deputy, seven other lawmakers and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had in a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/184/16, lodged before the court through their lawyer, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, (SAN), cited as 1st to 5th defendants in the matter were the five lawmakers that effected the purported impeachment, the aforementioned security agencies and the Kogi State House of Assembly. The plaintiffs prayed the court to determine whether, in view of provisions of the 1999 Constitution and Rules 3(1) & (2) of the Standing Rules of Kogi State House of Assembly dated February 15, 2016, their removal was not unconstitutional, illegal, and null and void. Meantime, the court waved aside contention by the 1st to 5th defendants that the 1st plaintiff, Hon. Lawal, voluntarily resigned as the Speaker. According to Justice Dimgba, “It is important to assert that whether or not a resignation has occurred at any material time is not an issue of law, but an issue of fact. Facts are proven by evidence, not by declaration and the rule remains that he who asserts must prove. “In this instance, it was the 1st to 5th defendants who claim that their assumption of leadership was not forceful but was informed by the resignation of the 1st plaintiff on February 15, 2016 and his subsequent distribution of the House leadership positions to them. I note that the 1st to 5th defendants have not provided any evidence before this court to buttress this claim of resignation”