By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Justice Ademola Adeniyi of the Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday, said he would go ahead and deliver judgement on the suit seeking to sack the current leadership of the Senate under Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/651/2015, was filed before the court by five members of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the Senate, Abu Ibrahim, Kabir Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Olugbenga Ashafa and Suleiman Hunkuyi.
The plaintiffs are praying the court to remove Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, on the premises that the version of the Senate Standing Orders that was used to conduct the election that produced them on July 9, 2015, was forged.
In their suit dated July 27, 2015, the plaintiffs, contended that allowing Saraki and Ekweremadu to continue to pilot the affairs of the Senate regardless of the fact that they emerged through an act of illegality, would on itself amount to corruption.
Cited as defendants in the suit were Saraki, Ekweremadu, the National Assembly and Clerks of the National Assembly.
Meantime, though the court had concluded hearing on the matter, however, Ekweremadu, filed a petition before the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, alleging bias against Justice Adeniyi.
In his petition dated December 18, Ekweremadu, insisted that Justice Adeniyi has a close relationship with some chieftainS of the APC.
He specifically identified the national leader of the party and former governor of Lagos State, Ahmed Bola Tinubu as one of the people he said has personal relationship with the Judge.
Ekweremadu queried the ability of Justice Adeniyi to deliver an objective verdict on the matter in view of his alleged closeness with the APC, the party the plaintiffs belong to.
The petition which he lodged barely four days after the case was adjourned for judgement read in part: \’Honourable Justice A. Ademola is closely associated with the All Progressives Congress and top hierarchy of the party.
“I have incontrovertible evidence that the Honourable Justice A. Ademola is a very close friend of Chief Bola Tinubu, the leader of the All Progressives Congress.
“As a result of his closeness to the All Progressives Congress and to ensure that he does their bidding, Honourable Justice Ademola’s wife, Mrs. Olabowale Toluwalope Ademola, was on October 19, 2015 sworn in as a Head of Service in Lagos State, a state under the APC and a position which held at the pleasure of the APC governor in Lagos State.
“There is a real likelihood of bias on the part of the Honourable Justice A. Ademola and I do not have confidence in his Lordship’s ability to determine this matter in the most impartial manner.”
Consequently, he urged the CJ To transfer the case to another Judge for it to be heard de-novo (afresh).
His application was predicated on provisions of Order 9 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules.
However, Justice Adeniyi, yesterday, said he would not be deterred from delivering judgement on the matter by Ekweremadu’s petition.
The Judge told the parties that the judgement would be delivered within the time stipulated by the law, adding that the date would be communicated to them.
Earlier, the plaintiffs, through their counsel, Chief Mamman Mike Osuman, SAN, urged the court to disregard Ekweremadu’s petition which they said was baseless.
The plaintiffs insisted that the petition was nothing but a deliberate attempt by the defendants to escape Justice.
They noted that neither Ekweremadu nor Saraki had ever appeared in court to personally witness the proceedings, even as they wondered where the allegation of bias emanated from.
Likewise, the other defendants, yesterday, feigned ignorance of the petition which they said was strange to them since they were not copied.
Saraki had earlier challenged the jurisdiction of the court to adjudicate on the matter, arguing that the process of the election that produced them was a domestic affair of the Senate.
He argued that no part of the 1999 constitution or any other law was violated to warrant any litigation by the plaintiffs.
“There are 109 senators in the senate and only five are challenging the election of the officers. The point is that, the interest of the five senators, if any at all, cannot over-ride or be larger than the interest of 104 other senators.
“If they are actually in the majority, as they claimed, they should go back to the floor of the senate and test their popularity rather than rushing to court on issues that are purely internal affairs of the distinguished senators”, Saraki argued.