29 August 2018

Nigeria: Court Rejects Application to Halt Planned Removal of Saraki

Photo: Bukola Saraki
Bukola Saraki.

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday rejected an application seeking to suspend plans by some senators to remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Following his defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in July, some senators and other members of Mr Saraki's former party intensified calls for his resignation and warned of a possible removal if the senate president failed to resign willingly.

In an application brought before the court by two senators, Isa Misau and Rafiu Adebayo, the applicants asked the court to allow a motion ex-parte compelling the National Assembly members to maintain status-quo, pending the determination of their substantive application in court.

The senators, represented by their lawyers Emeka Etiaba and Mahmoud Magaji, presented their motion on Tuesday on behalf of the plaintiffs. Their main request is for the court to determine whether Mr Saraki's defection amounts to a reason for his removal under the law.

Mr Etiaba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, told the court that their motion dated August 27, included five reliefs sought from the court.

The first three requests were intended to secure an order restraining the 4th to 11th respondents from further actions, either by themselves or their proxies, in an attempt to ensure the removal of the senate president, pending the determination of the main application.

The last two applications, however, bordered on securing an alternative means of serving the respondents with the originating summons.

Ruling on the applications, the presiding judge, Nnamdi Dimgba, granted the last two applications but opted to ensure an accelerated hearing of the main application, rather than allowing the motion ex-parte requested by the plaintiffs.

"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 not take steps that will render the matter nugatory," Mr Dimgba said.

The court, however, allowed the application for substituted service of the documents to the respondents.

Mr Dimgba ruled that the plaintiff served the first to eighth respondent through the Clerk of the National Assembly, while the ninth to eleventh respondents were to be served through courier.

The judge adjourned the matter to September 6 for further hearing.

Another application filed by Mr Adebayo was also adjourned till September 13, by the same court.

Mr Adebayo's additional application however had one more respondent, making them 12 in all.

The respondents in the suits include the Senate, the Senate President, his deputy, the Senate Leader, his deputy, and the Minority Leader.

Others are: the Clerk of the Senate, the Deputy Senate Clerk, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police and the State Security Service.

The APC has insisted Mr Saraki would be removed if he does not resign. However, the party has only a slight majority in the 109-member Senate where two-third is required to remove a senate president.

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