By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, has challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Abuja to entertain the suit seeking to stop the removal of Dr. Bukola Saraki as Senate president.
The AGF urged the high court to hands off the suit lodged before it by two former All Progressives Congress, APC, senators, Rafiu Adebayo and Isa Misau.
He described the two lawmakers, who recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as “mischief makers,” insisting they failed to establish any acceptable locus standi to institute the action.
The AGF maintained that the plaintiffs failed to show how Saraki’s removal would affect their personal rights, even as he accused them of attempting to cry more than the bereaved.
Malami’s position was contained in a preliminary objection he filed in opposition to the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/843/2018, wherein the two ex-APC senators are praying the court to abort any attempt to forcibly and illegally re-open the Senate chamber with a view to removing Saraki from his position.
The plaintiffs, who represent Kwara South and Bauchi Central respectively, alleged that some chieftains of their former party, APC, led by its National Chairman, Adams Oshiomohole, and the AGF, had perfected plans to use security agencies to force Saraki to vacate his position as Senate president.
They applied for an order of interlocutory injunction stopping any impeachment proceeding against Saraki, pending the determination of legal issues they posed before the court.
In a 13-paragraphed affidavit personally deposed to by Senator Misau, he told the court that the APC was collaborating with key security agencies and the AGF to ensure that Saraki’s removal, notwithstanding the number of senators in his support, was forced out of office.
He said: “Unless the defendants and their agents are restrained by this Honourable court from taking the law into their hands, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria would not only be breached and violated by the defendants but would also plunge the entire country into a constitutional and social crisis of immense magnitude.”
However, the AGF, in his objection, dated August 27, urged the court to decline jurisdiction to entertain the suit, he argued, lacked merit.
Hearing on both suits were adjourned till September 6 and 13, even as the court ordered substituted service of all the processes on all the Defendants in the matter.
Cited as defendants in both suits were the Senate, the Senate President, Dr. Saraki, the Deputy Senate President, Dr. Ike Ekweremadu, Senator Ahmed Lawal (Senate Leader), Senator Bala Ibn Nallah (Deputy Senate Leader), Senator Emma Buacha (Deputy Minority Leader), Clerk of the Senate and Deputy Clerk of the Senate.
Others are the AGF, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris and the Department of State Service, DSS.
While the court gave the plaintiffs the nod to serve the originating summons and motion for injunction on the 1st to 8th Defendants through Clerk of the National Assembly, it held that the 10th to 12th Defendants should be served by courier service.
Though Justice Dimgba declined to issue an interim order stopping Saraki’s removal as he was prayed to do by counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Emeka Etiaba, SAN, he, however, warned all the parties to avoid any action capable of destroying the subject matter of the suit before the court.
The plaintiffs are, among other things, praying the court to determine, “Whether in view of the provisions of Section 50(l)(a)and(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who defected to another Political Party as a result of division in his former Political Party, can be made to vacate his office other than in accordance with the provisions of Section 50(2) of the Constitution?
“Whether by a combined reading of Section 50(l)(a)and(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Order 3 Rule 8 of the Senate Standing Orders, 2015 (as amended), the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria can be compelled to vacate his office on the ground that he is not a member of the Political Party with majority of senators in the Senate?’’