by Dare Lawal
The judgement two days ago by a Federal High Court which restrained and advised lawmakers who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to resign is being appealed by the House of Representatives; its Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal; and Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.
They filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, asking it to set aside the judgement. Even though the judgement is favourable to the PDP which is the party of the speaker and his deputy, the House leadership appealed it nonetheless, raising questions about their true position.
Here’s how The Punch reported the story:
Justice Adeniyi Ademola had in his judgment on Monday in the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/4/14, which was filed by the Peoples Democratic Party against the House of Representatives, its principal officers and the 42 defected lawmakers, held that there was no division in the PDP to qualify the legislators to defect and continue to retain their seats in line with the provisions of section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution.
The section allows for defection of members of the National Assembly in situations where there is division in thier political parties.
Challenging the judgment, the appellants argued that the decision of the Abuja FHC was “perverse,” and was not supported by the reliefs sought by the PDP.
They insisted that the trial judge “erred in law when he granted reliefs not sought by the plaintiff,” adding that the judgment “is against the weight of evidence.”
They stressed that Justice Ademola erred when he granted the reliefs sought by the plaintiff and went further to hold that the respondents ought to have resigned their seats as members of the House of Representatives.
Furthermore, the appellants argued that the judge was wrong when he held that the reliefs sought by the PDP in the suit were justiciable and proceeded to grant the reliefs without considering the provision of section 30 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap L12 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The section provides that “neither the President nor the Speaker, as the case may be, of a legislative house shall be subjected to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise of any power conferred on or vested in him by or under this Act or the standing orders of the Constitution.”
The appellants argued that trial judge wrongly assumed jurisdiction over the suit, which they insisted was an internal affair of the House.
They further argued that the House was protected under Section 60 of the Constitution.
Insisting that the PDP lacked the locus standi to institute the case because it was not predicated on any recognised legal interest, they stressed that the reliefs sought by the ruling party were not supported by any legal evidence.
In the same vein, they contended that the trial judge was wrong in holding that the suit was rightly commenced with originating summons without regard to the provision of Order 3 Rule 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
The appellants asked the Court of Appeal to hold that the suit filed by PDP was an abuse of the court because there were similar cases, involving the same parties, still pending before the court.
Specifically, they referred the appellate court to the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayato Gwazo and 79 others vs Alhaji Bamaga Tukur and four others, which they insisted had the same parties and similar prayers with the suit in which Justice Ademola delivered judgment on Monday.