A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused an application asking that the status quo be maintained in a suit seeking to set aside the notice of impeachment served on Governor Ayodele Fayose and his deputy for alleged misconduct.
At the resumed hearing of a suit filed by the PDP lawmakers, lawyer to the APC-led factional speaker, Mr Terrence Vembe, told the court that even though he was ready to challenge the motion, the court should take judicial notice that the said application was served on a public holiday and as such, he was still within time to argue his case.
The court agreed with the counsel to the plaintiff that such an application could not be made orally.
The court also refused an order by the counsel to the plaintiff, Mr Ahmed Raji, asking that all parties in the suit maintain status quo pending a decision on the application.
It advised parties in the case to approach the court, should any of them feel aggrieved by an action prejudicial to the case.
The court adjourned to April 29 for all defendants in the suit to show cause why the orders sought by the Peoples Democratic Party faction of the Ekiti State House of Assembly to stop the impeachment of Governor Ayodele Fayose should not be granted.
Nineteen Members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly had served impeachment notice on Governor Fayose and his deputy for alleged gross misconduct and interference in the running of the state assembly.
The 19 members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), have filed a notice of discontinuance of a suit they instituted against Governor Ayo Fayose at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The lawmakers had filed the suit against the State Governor and others, to challenge the purported impeachment of Hon. Adewale Omirin as Speaker, and running of the House by only seven members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The APC lawmakers were alleged to had earlier fled the state after Hon Omirin’s impeachment, but were directed by the party to return after the March 28 Presidential elections.
A copy of the notice of discontinuance which was signed by the 19 lawmakers was obtained on Thursday by Channels TV’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele.
In the suit, the APC lawmakers had specifically argued that by the provision of the constitution, the 7 PDP lawmakers lacked the legal right to take decisions on behalf of the House.
The plaintiffs had also asked the court to declare that Hon Omirin and his deputy are entitled to occupy their offices, except removed by two-third majority votes of the assembly.
The lawmakers also sought a declaration that Governor Fayose’s alleged attempt to force them to join the PDP and denounce the APC is against their constitutional rights to freedom of association.
They then asked the court to hold that the election of the PDP’s Dele Olugbemi as Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly was illegal, saying all deliberations and actions of the seven lawmakers were invalid.
Meanwhile, Governor Fayose, in a preliminary objection filed by three of his commissioners, asked the court for an order striking out or dismissing the suit in its entirety, for lack of jurisdiction.
The Edo State House of Assembly has lifted the suspension of Emmanuel Okoduwa and Kingsley Ehigiamusoe.
Since June, the Edo lawmakers have been holding parallel sittings at the separate venues.
The House was divided after the suspension of three PDP members of the House and the deputy speaker, who is a member of the APC. They were accused of gross misconduct.
Three of the suspended lawmakers defected from the APC to the PDP before they were suspended. The lawmakers dismissed the allegations and insisted that they would continue to attend plenaries. They claimed that the House did not follow due process in suspending them.
However, the suspension over Emmanuel Okoduwa and Kingsley Ehigiamusoe was lifted after the two PDP lawmakers decided to join the fifteen APC lawmakers, who have been sitting in the old assembly chambers in the Edo State Government House premises.
Emmanuel Okoduwa and Kingsley Ehigiamusoe, were elected on the platform of the PDP and had been sitting with seven others at the Edo state House of Assembly complex at the Kingsquare in Benin city.
Edo State Factional Lawmakers Reach Peace Agreement
Meanwhile, the two factions on Wednesday reached an agreement to end the six-month long crisis after a plenary where both groups were represented, leaders of the factions told reporters that they arrived at the decision in the spirit of Christmas.
They blamed the crisis on external motivation and said they decided to resolve their differences in the interest of the people.
Sitting as one, the lawmakers voted against the Local Government Autonomy Law.
Indications have emerged that the crisis in the Edo State House of Assembly is far from over.
Despite the court order on Wednesday, the suspended lawmakers said that they would be at the Edo State House of Assembly premises on Monday when the house is billed to sit again.
Meanwhile, 37 persons have been remanded in prison custody after being arraigned at a Benin High Court on Wednesday on suspicion of causing mayhem during the protests by supporters of both factions.
The Commissioner of Police, Folusho Adebanjo, said that dangerous weapons were found with them and urged youths to refrain from being used to cause violence in the state.
After over 13 hours of meeting on Wednesday, the Edo State House of Assembly had convened a meeting at about 6:30pm in which they presented the court order to the suspended members and they responded that they were yet to be served.
Subsequently the House Committee Chairman on Information, Adjoto Kabiru, briefed the press on the outcome.
The PDP lawmakers, in a parallel briefing, insisted, however, that they would be present at the Edo State House of Assembly on Monday despite the court order.
Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe on Monday morning lambasted leaders and members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following several events, including the call for the President’s impeachment, based on allegations leveled against him in a letter written by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and the defection of 5 governors and 37 lawmakers to the APC, Mr Okupe described all attempts at discrediting the present administration as coming from ‘desperate failures’ who want the Presidency to go to the North.
“Every time they (APC) need a national figure as a leader or anytime they want to play national politics, they don’t have it among themselves. They went to look for Ribadu, Atiku, now (it’s) Tambuwal or (somebody) Obasanjo,” he said, referring to a meeting the APC leaders had with Obasanjo on Saturday.
He tagged the party as ‘unserious’ for admitting members who they (APC) had accused of corruption. “Before, Kwankwaso is a thief. Now if he joins APC, he’s a saint,” he said.
“Right now they are mute on manifesto, mute on programme. All they are doing is collecting all collectibles, irrespective of those who were formerly regarded as criminals, e.g Kwankwaso.
On the defection of five former PDP governors to the opposition party, he said it is “good riddance” for PDP and accused them of not being democrats.
“These are people who are irrevocably committed to a particular ideology. They want the Presidency to go to the north by all means. These are not democrats.”
Following the defection of 37 lawmakers, analysts have noted the possibility of the APC being the majority in the National Assembly but according to Okupe, it is a ‘dream’ the APC would never realize.
“Majority in the NASS is a dream they have. They are not likely to gain a majority in any of the Houses.”
He backed-up his assertion with confirmation that the PDP has strong ties with other parties. “PDP has working alliance and working arrangement with Labour Party, APGA, Accord Party and they are not small numbers.”
Although he claimed not to have ever condemned the APC for looking for members in the PDP, he defined a political party worth considering as one which has “within itself the human resources that is required to develop and instill sense of confidence in voters”.
“Check out APC, they have no story to tell. It is quite embarrassing, I am shocked. A new party formed with so much fanfare. They have no story to tell. What you would have expected would have been that this party that knows that it is in opposition, if it must defeat an incumbent, ought to be moving all over the place talking about manifesto, talking about what they would do differently from what is being done.”
“They (defected governors) are outgoing (as they have served two tenures already). These are governors that are not popular in their states.
He made an example of the Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako. “Nyako is of no consequence in Adamawa. We had to beg the whole of Adamawa, Jubril Aminu, Atiku Abubakar, Bamanga Tukur (everybody that was anybody in Adamawa), to help shore up support for Nyako to win the second term.”
He added that it was not the party’s fault but Nyako’s ‘person.’ “It’s not his fault. He’s never been a politician. It was General Obasanjo (Rtd) who went and called him from his farm. He didn’t take part in any primary. He didn’t win any election. He didn’t campaign to anybody. They finished the primaries in Adamawa.”
Obasanjo just called him and said you are the governor.”
As for the defected PDP lawmakers, they have lost their seats already. It’s a matter of time, he said.
He continued by saying they are no longer legislators insisting that “if it was during Obasanjo’s time, they would have put policemen at the gate. They would not allow them to enter and it would be right.”
“The law says that you in the National Assembly cannot cross-carpet, leave your party to another party, unless there is division in your party.
We have a court judgment that says there’s no division in PDP and the court says it does not recognise the new PDP.”
People flagrantly disobey the law and shamelessly declare themselves as members of another party, he said.
Buhari And Bola Tinubu: Still Thinking In The Past
While speaking on the programme, Okupe faulted the APC’s attempts at gaining numbers by poaching on PDP territory and blamed the leaders for not being up to date on the new era of politics.
“Politics has changed since the era of digital communication and the emancipation of a lot of our young people,” he said, noting that “the leadership of the APC, (Buhari and Bola Tinubu), are still thinking in the past.”
Okupe attributed the APC gain in south-west Nigeria to internal wrangling in the PDP. “PDP messed itself up,” he said.
On the fear of Nigerians in diaspora regarding the 2015 elections, which many say would be grappled with desperation, Okupe said: “I am not going to judge what will happen in Nigeria by the perception of foreigners.”
What Nigerians need to do is to appeal to these desperate people (particularly the APC), not to employ desperate measures. He advised members of the APC to talk to Nigerians and then head to the polls for the outcome.
He pegged the impeachment plan which has been supported by the APC as an “attempt by desperate failures.”