Benue Assembly Defies Court Order, Refuses To Swear In New Lawmaker
The Benue House of Assembly has defied an order of the Appeal Court directing it to swear in Mr Joseph Boko to replace Benjamin Nungwa as member representing Kwande West constituency.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the Appeal Court, which sat in Makurdi on Nov. 2, had declared Boko, an APC member, winner of the state legislative election held in April 2015.
The case, which dragged through various courts for upwards of three years, was eventually decided in favour of the appellant by the Appeal Court.
The court, in the judgment, upturned the verdict of the Federal High Court, presided by Justice Binta Nyako, which had affirmed Benjamin Nungwa, also of the APC, as the winner of the polls.
Justice Joseph Ekanem of the Appellate Court, while upturning the judgment of the lower court, described Nungwa as an ” illegal occupant” of the seat, and ordered him to refund all monies, salaries and allowances earned within the period he was in the assembly.
The court ordered the immediate swearing in of Boko as replacement.
Following that judgment, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), presented a certificate of return to Boko as the winner of the Kwande West constituency election.
But in a dramatic twist, Boko, who approached the state legislature to be sworn- in as ordered by the court, was turned down by the lawmakers led by the Speaker, Mr Titus Uba.
They claimed that they had been served a court injunction restraining them from doing so.
Uba, in a meeting of members in his office, disclosed that the legislature was served restraining orders by the Appeal Court on the matter, and had to stay action until the matter was disposed of in the court.
Reacting to the position of the lawmakers, counsel to Boko, Mr Douglas Pepe, told NAN on Thursday in Makurdi that the judgment of the appeal court was a “declarative one”.
“The appellate court’s judgment was declarative which compels the legislature to act with dispatch in swearing in the new member.
“In fact, the state legislature is, by the order of the court, compelled to inaugurate him (Boko) within 48 hours of receipt of the judgment.
“Moreover, what Nungwa served the legislature is not an order asking for a stay of execution of judgment. It was merely an application for an injunction restraining the legislature from taking action on the matter.
“The application has not even been heard by the court. It is only when it is heard and an order made by the court in that regard, that action could be taken.
“What they have at the moment is a motion on notice, which has yet to be argued. They cannot take any action based on that,” he said. (NAN)