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Published On: Wed, May 1st, 2019

Defection: Saraki, Dogara prays court to dismiss suit against lawmakers

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….court fixed Judgement for May 17

By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja

The Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and the Speaker House of Representative, Yakubu Dogara, yesterday, the court to dismiss a suit instituted against them and 52 others lawmakers.
Saraki and Dogara maintained that an advocacy body, (LEDAP) had no locus Standi to file the suit and that the court lack jurisdiction to determine their case.
They submitted that the plaintiff is a meddlesome interloper, busy body and a stranger in the affairs that led to the defection off the lawmakers.
Saraki, along side 53 others lawmakers are facing trial before the Federal High Court Abuja ,on account of their defection from their various political parties in 2018, due to alleged nationwide crisis and divisions in the parties.
The plaintiff, Legal Defence and Assistant Project LEDAP (LEDAP) has prayed Justice Okon Abang to invoke section 251 of the 1999 constitution to declare the seats of the defecting national lawmakers vacant on the grounds that their action was a breach of the law.
The plaintiff, has through its counsel Jibrin Okutepa, SAN, in the originating summon also asked the court to order the lawmakers to refund all monies they collected from the federal government since their defection.
However, Saraki and 16 other senators in their preliminary objection, urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety because it discloses no cause of action.
Arguing through their lead counsel, Mahmoud Magaji, SAN, in the preliminary objection, the senators submitted that the plaintiff being a mare nongovernmental organization, (NGO) lack the requisite power to institute the suit as it did.
They maintained that the case had no basis in law because it is not a political party, not a voter and not a member of the constituencies where the senators were elected by their people.
Magaji insisted that the plaintiff apart from being an NGO did not disclose what it suffered by the defection of the lawmakers other than what other Nigerians sufferers.
Hr argued that in all the processes they filed the plaintiff never claim or exhibit any documents to show that it is a political party or representing any political party or a voter and therefore failed to disclose what prompted it to embark on the court action.
Therefore, he prayed the court to hold that the plaintiff is meddlesome interloper, busy body and a stranger in the affairs that led to the defection off the lawmakers.
In the same vain, Counsel to the House of Reps members, Professor Joash Amupitan SAN, held that the plaintiff had no locus standi to have filed the case against the lawmakers and that the failure to join the political parties was fatal to the case.
He drew the attention of the court that the defecting lawmakers came from different states of the Federation to establish the fact that the division in their party which led to their defection from their various parties was fundamental and nationwide.
Further in his submissions, he faulted the case of the plaintiff on the ground that condition precedent for instituting such case were not met because the plaintif did not ask the offices of the senate president and that of the speaker to declare the seats of the defectors vacant before rushing to court.
He averred that the large scale crisis and the division in the parties especially the APC was so large that the party could not field candidate in Zamfara and Riversstate and therefore urged the court to dismiss the suit of the plaintiff who he accused of wasting the precious time of the court.
However counsel to the plaintiff, Jibrin Okutepa asked the court to discountenance the submission of the national lawmakers adding that the court has constitutional powers to invoke section 251 of the 1999 constitution to sack the lawmakers on account of being federal lawmakers.
He insisted that the lawmakers cross-carpeted for selfish reasons other than the alleged division in their party and that the court should invoke the law by declaring their seats vacant without fair or favour. Adding that heaven will not fall if the defecting lawmakers are relieved of their offices.
Justice Abang after listening to arguments from the parties fixed judgement for May 17.
The judge also directed the lawyers to make available to the court photocopies of cited authorities thro the registrar of the court.

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