Threatened by its gradual loss of control of the National Assembly, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, yesterday, approached an Abuja Federal High Court urging it to restrain the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal and 52 other lawmakers from altering or changing the leadership of the House.
In an affidavit in support of the suit, PDP averred that a ‘rebel’ group of 46 lawmakers, led by the Minority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, had finalized plans to change the leadership of the House upon resumption from their recess.
The party had argued, “If the House is not restrained by the court and they take any step, it will foist on the court a state of fait accompli. The plaintiff will be prejudiced if this application is refused. Monetary compensation will not atone for the damage that will be done to the plaintiff in place of this interim injunction. It is in the interest of justice to grant this application”.
It, therefore, prayed the court to compel the lawmakers, including those that have decamped to the All Progressives Congress, APC, to maintain status-quo, pending the hearing and final determination of the suit.
The ruling party, which is the plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/2/2014 raised two questions for the court’s determination and sought for four reliefs.
The party, through its counsel, Mr. Yunus Usman, SAN, is asking the court to determine, whether in view of the mandatory provision of section 68(i) (g) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, and in view of the pendency of a suit between Senator Bello Gwarzo and 78 others against Alhaji Bamanga Tukur and four others before the Federal High Court, Abuja, the defendants, can validly function as members of the House of Reps, contribute to, or, vote on any motion and or debate in the proceedings of the House with a view to removing or sanctions 2nd to 10th defendants or any of the principal officers of the House.
Joined as defendants in the suit are, Deputy Speaker (Emeka Ihedioha), Mulikat Akande-Adeola (the Majority Leader), Leo Ogor (Deputy Majority Leader), Isiaka Bawa (Chief Whip), Ahmed Mutkar (Deputy Chief Whip), Gbajabiamila (Minority Leader), Samsom Osagie (Minority Whip) and Sumaila Kawu (Deputy Minority Leader).
The party equally wants the court to determine whether in view of the mandatory provision of section 68(i) (g) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the aforementioned pending suit, the 23rd to 79th defendants can lawfully alter the composition or constitution of the leadership of the 1st defendant.
Consequently, PDP prayed the court to declare that in view of Section 68(1) (g) of the Constitution and the pending case marked FHC/ABJ/CS/621/2013 the defecting lawmakers “cannot lawfully vote and contribute to any motion for the removal or change of any of the principal officers” of the House.
It is also seeking a declaration that the defecting lawmakers, who are plaintiffs in the earlier suit mentioned above, which is pending before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the same court, “Are not competent to sponsor, contribute or vote on any motion calling for the removal or change in the leadership of the House of Reps or the removal of any of the Principal Officers of the House”.
It also prayed for “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants particularly 2nd to 52nd defendants, their agents, servants, privies, or through any person or persons however from taking any step or further steps, sitting, starting or doing anything to alter, remove or change the leadership of the House”.
The PDP equally filed an application for interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from altering the leadership of the House pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Meanwhile, the defected lawmakers are challenging the suit.
In counter affidavits filed by their lawyers, including S. T. Hon, SAN, they argued that PDP was not a human being, and had no voting rights with respect to the enthronement or removal from office of any or all the principal officers of the House of Representatives.
They insisted that going by the exiting practice in the House of Representatives, the political party with majority of members always formed the core leadership of the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
They equally maintained that, before the defection, the PDP had majority membership in the House, hence the election of PDP lawmakers into the leadership positions they are currently occupying.
But they stressed that, with the defection of the 37 lawmakers, the PDP had lost its majority status to the APC hence the party should be allowed to form the core leadership of the House.