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Published On: Mon, Jul 2nd, 2018

Clerk of Senate has no power to swear in lawmaker, Lawyer argues

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  • Asks Senate to reject Alfa and ignore Court order

By Musa Adamu and Ikechukwu Okaforadi

There are strong indications that the Senate, upon resumption tomorrow, may reject the Court’s judgment on the Kogi East senatorial seat presently occupied by Senator Attai Aidoko Ali.
The likely rejection of the Court judgment by the Senate stems from an order of Court asking the Clerk of Senate, as against the Senate President, to swear in Air Marshall Isaac Alfa as Senator representing Kofi East.
Atai Aidoko Ali, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Senator representing Kogi East in the upper legislative chamber, was recently sacked by Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Delivering judgment on June 13, the Judge held that Aidoko was not properly nominated by the PDP for the March 2015 election.
He also ordered that the Clerk of the National Assembly should immediately swear in Aidoko’s challenger, Air Marshall Isaac Alfa.
But, according to legal experts, the order by the Court is capable of triggering constitutional crises in the National Assembly over the engagement and
disengagement of lawmakers.
A Lawyer, Barr. Abdul Sadiq, therefore, urged the Senate to reject the judgment of the Court.
He also cautioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on
the consequences of issuing a Certificate of Return before studying the implication of the judgment.
Speaking in Abuja, he said the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), was unambiguous about the provisions of the law relating to the procedure of engagements and disengagements of members of the National Assembly and lawmakers.
His said: “The ambiguity occasioned by the judgment of the federal high court by giving order of judgment to the Clerk of the Senate, will trigger another lacuna and constitutional crises when carefully studied; and only its un-applicability will give a leeway to legal interpretation on the Kogi East Senate judgment properly.
“According to the provisions, the Clerk of the Senate is the head of management; he or she has nothing to do with administering the oath of office of/on any senator; hence, the order of the federal high court was given to a wrong person.
“Further to these, Chapter 1 Order 7 of the Senate Standing Rules 2015, derived from section 60 of the constitution, obeying such order amounts to violating the constitution, as the Clerk of the Senate is not party to the case; and such an order of the court cannot be binding on him.
“You cannot give an order against someone who is not a party to the suit. The constitutional provision lies with the Senate President, and not the
Clerk, who without an order of the Senate can’t administer an oath of office on a senator, this has never been done anywhere.
“However, INEC’s decision on the issuance of certificate of return is a misnomer and the implication of the certificate issued to him was in bad faith. “Conversely, this is not new as Senator Albert Bassey, Akwa-Ibom North, is still in the Senate representing his constituency in spite of such certificate issued to Bassey Etim Akpan from the same area.”
He further pointed out that in accordance with a subsisting Supreme Court decision, once there was a stay of order, an application for stay and notice of appeal, no party was allowed to take further action.

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