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Published On: Tue, Nov 4th, 2014

Court halts plot to reconvene House

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high_court_lagos_federalBy Umar Muhammad Puma

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday granted an injunction restraining lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from reconvening the House of Representatives.

Justice Ahmed Ramat Muhammed ruled that the PDP legislators cannot reconvene the House until Friday when the case will be heard.

The judge, ruled that all the parties in the suit must maintain status quo until Firday, November 7. The ruling followed suit by APC member in the House.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers had gone to court seeking an injunction after they suspected that PDP lawmakers were planning to illegally reconvene the House after it had been duly adjourned by the Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, Minority Leader of the House, Rep Femi Gbajabiamila (APC Lagos), said they suspected that PDP lawmakers were illegally planning to reconvene the House in defiance of its leadership.

“Following the defection of the Speaker to the APC in exercise of his fundamental and constitutional right to freedom of association and in conformity with the provisions of section 68 (l](g) of the Constitution. The PDP had resorted to self-help and using the police agency, turned accuser, judge and executioner and withdrew the Speakers’ security personnel.

“Let us make this abundantly clear, the legislature is a separate but equal arm of government. It is not inferior nor is it subservient to the executive. Their powers are separated under the constitution and it can never be an extension or department of the Presidency or PDP. Just as the legislature cannot regulate the workings of the presidency or determine for the President when he should call FEC meetings and we note that there was a time he did not for months, so also can the presidency not determine for the House when to reconvene or meet.

“You are all too familiar with the relevant provisions of our House rules, which provides for how and when an adjourned House can be reconvened. The President cannot do it; a political party cannot do it; the deputy speaker lacks the powers and indeed it is beyond the signatures of 120,150, 250 or 350 members. That power resides solely and exclusively with Mr. Speaker.

“We had hoped that the PDP and the Executive would at least this one time be decorous in its conduct and respect the rule of law and the legislature but we were wrong. We would like to use this opportunity to appeal to our colleagues in the PDP not to embark on a futile exercise but to put country first and self, second; and do only that which is right as, is our prayer every morning before sittings.

According to the House Standing Orders in pursuant to Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, the procedure for reconvening or re-assembly of the House, is at the discretion of the Speaker and it also empowers the House to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for Summoning and Recess of the House.

Order V , Rule 18(2) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives provides that ” whenever the House stands adjourned either to a date fixed by Resolution or the Rules of the House, and it is represented by the Leaders of the Political Parties in the House to the Speaker that the public interest requires that the House should meet on an earlier or a later date or time than that on which it stands adjourned, the Speaker may give notice accordingly, and the House shall meet on the date and at the time stated in the notice.”

This means that the leaders of all the political parties in the House, especially the Majority and Minority Leaders respectively, must consent before the representation is made to the Speaker, who has discretion to agree or not.

Meanwhile, Hon. Tambuwal, has accused the PDP, its Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, and others of plotting to remove him from office by force.

Tambuwal, in a fresh application yesterday, before a Federal High Court in Abuja, alleged that the PDP and Mu’azu were working with the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Adoke, and Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, to carry out this plot.

The Speaker said that they plan to remove him by illegally reconvening the sitting of the House of Representatives before the lawful resumption date of December 3.

The Speaker also said that the withdrawal of his security details on October 30 by the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba, was upon the prompting of the PDP, Mu’azu, House of Representatives and Ihedioha.

These allegations were according to an affidavit supporting an ex parte application, which Tambuwal filed yesterday before a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The application followed a suit which he and his party, the APC, had filed before the same court on Friday.

He instituted the suit following the withdrawal of his security details on the account of his defection to the APC from the PDP.

Tambuwal stated that the plot to reconvene the sitting of the House was part of the bigger plan to forcefully remove him from office as Speaker and member of the House of Representatives.

The respondents in the suit, which is marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/800/2014, are the PDP, Mu’azu, House of Representatives, Ihedioha, Inspector General of Police, Independent National Electoral Commission, and the AGF.

The affidavit accompanying his application was deposed to by one of his lawyers, Ejura Ochimana.

In a related development, lawmakers under the platform of the APC and the national leadership of the party were engaged an emergency and strategic meeting meant to plan ahead of the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) over the alleged plan to remove Speaker Tambuwal.

At last night’s meeting, Tambuwal led all other members of the House to the party’s secretariat, presided by the national chairman, Chief John Oyegun.

Addressing the meeting last night, Oyegun, commended Tambuwal for coming into the party at the time he did.

Although the agenda of the meeting was not clear before press time, it is believed that the recent moves by the government to reconvene the House of Representatives and the withdrawal of the security details of the Speaker were top on the agenda of the meeting, which was still going on at the time of this report last night.


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