…Senators want court to stop forceful reconvening of NASS
A Federal High Court in Abuja has cautioned against any move aimed at unlawfully removing the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, from office, pending the determination of a suit filed by some senators in the matter.
Two senators: Rafiu Adebayo (PDP, Kwara South) and Isa Misau (PDP, Bauchi Central) had dragged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Inspector General of Police and the Department of Security Services (DSS) to court in a bid to restrain them from allegedly aiding the forceful removal or impeachment of Saraki from office.
Other defendants in the matter are the Senate, the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawan (Senate Leader), Senator Bala Ibn Nallah (Deputy Senate Leader), Senator Emma Bwacha (Deputy Minority Leader), Clerk of the Senate and Deputy Clerk of the Senate.
Beside the originating summons, lawyer to the two senators, Mr Mahmoud Magaji (SAN), had filed the motion exparte pursuant to Order 26 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Tuesday Magaji asked Emeka Etiaba (SAN) to address the court on his behalf.
Basically, the exparte motion sought an order of interim injunction (in reliefs 1, 2, and 3), restraining the defendants from taking any untoward action or move to forcefully remove or impeach the Senate President from office.
Reliefs 4 and 5 prayed the court for an order of substituted service of court processes on the defendants.
Adumbrating on the motion, Etiaba said in the event the court was constrained to grant reliefs 1, 2, and 3, “Our alternative prayer is for the court to make preservatory orders in order to protect the res (subject matter) of the suit.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer also argued that preservatory orders will take away their fears, stressing that under section 6 of the Constitution, the court has inherent jurisdiction to make such an order.
In his short ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba held that in respect of reliefs 1, 2, and 3, which are orders of interim injunction, “I believe the proper order to make is an order of accelerated hearing of the suit so that the court can consider and determine the merits of the substantive case expeditiously.
“Even though reliefs 1, 2, and 3, are not granted, needless to say, parties have been enjoined to respect the authority of the court and the integrity of the judicial process and should not take steps that will render the matter nugatory.”
Furthermore, the court granted reliefs 4 and 5, and directed substituted service of court processes, the originating summon and motion for injunction on the 1st to 8th defendants through clerk of the National Assembly.
In addition, Justice Dimgba ordered substituted service on the 10th to 12th defendants by courier service.
Meanwhile, in the light of the originating summon of the suit, the court adjourned the matter to September 6, for accelerated hearing.
“Counsels should take necessary steps to serve all the parties with the processes, the court said.
In the motion, the plaintiffs are praying for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 4th to 11th defendants and their agents from unlawfully removing Saraki pending the determination of the substantive suit.
The plaintiffs are also seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 9th to 10th defendants from unlawfully interfering with the lawful legislative duties of Saraki pending the determination of the substantive suit.
“An order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 10th to 11th defendants from harassing, hounding intimidating, arresting or detaining the 2nd defendant in respect of the lawful exercise of his duties pursuant to Section 50(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as attended), until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
More so, the plaintiffs want the court to make an order directing the parties in the suit to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
In a similar suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/843/2018, filed by Senator Rafiu Adebayo against the Senate and 11 others, the court adjourned to September 13, for hearing.
Specifically, the second suit is seeking an order restraining the defendants from forcefully and illegally reopening the Senate chamber.
The court adjourned and directed parties to file in their processes.
Magaji Mahmud, SAN, and Emeka Etiaba, SAN, announced appearance for the plaintiff, while T. D. Agbe appeared for the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (10th defendant).
David Igbodo entered appearance for the Police, and S. Azi, for the DSS.