News Beyond Boundaries

Blow for Saraki as court strikes out suit seeking to stop removal from office

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By Toby Prince

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday struck out a suit seeking to stop the Senate from removing Senate President Bukola Saraki and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, from office.

The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/936/2018 was filed by a Civil Society Organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance.

Delivering judgement on Monday, the judge, John Tsoho, held that “the newspaper reports showing threats of removing the Senate President and his deputy, which the plaintiff tendered as evidence in support of its case, are not admissible in law.”

Mr Tsoho, citing Supreme Court judgments, said, “There is no evidential value in the newspaper publications tendered by the plaintiff”.

The judge held that the plaintiff failed to show any credible evidence to persuade the court in any way to grant the declarative reliefs it sought from the court.

“I hold that the plaintiff has failed to adduce credible and cogent evidence in support of its originating summons.

“Accordingly, all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff cannot be granted due to lack of credible evidence. The suit, as filed by the plaintiff is hereby struck out,” Mr Tsoho ruled.

In the suit filed last year, the plaintiff had urged the court to declare that Mr Saraki and Mr Ekweremadu cannot be removed from office as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate unless pursuant to a resolution supported by the votes of not less than 73 members of the Senate.

The suit has all the 109 senators as defendants.

In the originating summons dated August 24, 2018, and filed by Nnamdi Nwokocha-Ahaaiwe, the group argued that by the clear and extant provisions of section 50(2) (c) of the 1999 constitution, the two men cannot be removed from their offices unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

The plaintiff posed the following questions for the court’s determination:

“Whether by the clear and extant provisions of section 50(2) (c) of the 1999 constitution, a President of the Senate and a Deputy President of the Senate such as Saraki and Ekweremadu can be removed from their said offices as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate respectively unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

“Whether by the combined provisions of sections 3(1) and (4) and (48) of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not comprised of 109 members.

*Whether two-thirds majority of the 109 members of the Senate is not comprised of 73 members.

“Whether the 1st and 2nd defendants can be removed from office as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate respectively unless pursuant to a resolution supported by the votes of not less than 73 members of the Senate.”

In an 11-paragraph supporting affidavit to the originating summons deposed to by ThankGod Ubani, the plaintiff stated that some All Progressives Congress (APC) members of the Senate connived with the Executive arm of government and security agencies to harass Mr Saraki and Mr Ekweremadu with the motive to illegally removed them from office.

Mr Ubani averred that “on the first day, they planned to illegally and unlawfully remove the first and second defendants from office by trying to prevent them from coming to the National Assembly so they could be removed in their absence.

“The 1st defendant’s motorcade was blocked with the intention to detain him and prevent him from getting but fortunately he was not in the vehicle and managed to find his way to Senate and presided over the proceedings, thus, thwarting the illegal attempts while the 2nd defendant’s (Ekweremadu) residence was besieged by security agents who prevented him from going to work at the Senate.”

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