A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, former PDP Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio and 50 other lawmakers, until April 17 to file their responses to a suit asking them to vacate their seats.
The suit filed by Legal Defense and Assistance Project (LEDAP) urged the court to declare that the lawmakers are no longer members of the National Assembly, after defecting to other political parties without proof of division before the expiration of their tenure.
At the resumed hearing, Efut Okoi represented the affected senators, while Safiya Mohammed represented the members of the house of representatives.
Meanwhile, counsel to LEDAP, Jubrin Okutepa, described the sudden change of counsels by the defendants as a ploy to frustrate the case.
He urged the court to ask the previous defense counsel, Mahmud Magaji, to appear and argue his earlier application.
“These are defendants who were served the process of the court since November 2, 2018 and by the rules of court, they had 14 days within which to file their counter affidavit and defense if any.
“Yesterday they stalled proceedings, today again, they came with different lawyers, different processes, confronting us in court. So, the system of justice must not be allowed to suffer a shipwreck by deliberate antics.”
Okutepa added that the essence of the suit is to seek constitutional interpretation and make necessary corrections where necessary.
“This is a simple but fundamental case that involves tax payers money, we are saying you have defected from one party to the other, then the constitution says vacate and you are still there making laws, collecting salaries. We are saying, look, you can’t do that, we operate a constitutional democracy and we are here to simply interpret the constitution.”
Justice Okon Abang, after listening to all the parties, held that it is in the interest of justice to hear all counsel in the matter and subsequently adjourned further hearing to April 18,2019.