The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and his deputy, Emeka Ihedioha have appealed the decision of the Federal High Court which seeks to restrain the members of the House who defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to the main opposition party All Progressives Congress, from altering the leadership of the House.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola in his judgment delivered on Monday had ruled in favour of the PDP in its suit against the leadership of the House and the 42 defected lawmakers. He held that there was no division in the PDP warranting the defection of the lawmakers and ordered that the defected lawmakers vacate their seats.
The appeal was filed in Abuja by their counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN) who is raising seven grounds of appeal, arguing that the judgment of Justice Ademola is “perverse and not supported by the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.”
The Nation reports the appellants contended that the judgment “is against the weight of evidence.” And that he erred “when he granted the reliefs sought by the plaintiff and “went further to hold that the 1st to 39th respondents ought to have resigned their seats as members of the 1st appellant.
They argued that the judge erred when he held that the reliefs of the 1st respondent (PDP) were justiciable and proceeded to grant the reliefs sought without considering the provision of Section 30 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap L12 Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
The section provides that “neither the President nor the Speaker as the case may be, of a legislative house shall be subjected to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise of any power conferred on or vested in him by or under this Act or the standing orders of the Constitution.”
The appellants argued that the judge wrongly assumed jurisdiction over the suit, which was predicated on the internal affairs of the House of Reps, which is protected under Section 60 of the Constitution. They further argued that the reliefs sought by the PDP were not justiciable, yet the judge proceeded to grant the reliefs.
They contended that the PDP lacked the locus standi to institute the case because it was not predicated on any recognised legal interest; the reliefs sought were not supported by any legal evidence and that the judge failed to reckon with the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Fawehinmi vs Akilu (1987) 12 SC 136, Amaechi vs INEC (2008)1 LRECN 1.
The appellants faulted the judge for holding that the suit was rightly commenced with originating summons, without regard to the provision of Order 3 Rule 6 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
They argued that the judge was wrong to have held that the claims of the PDP do not amount to an abuse of court process when there are similar cases, involving the same parties, still pending before the court.
They referred to suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/621/2013 between Senator Bello Hayato Gwazo and 79 others vs Alhaji Bamaga Tukur and four others and argued that the parties and reliefs sought were similar with that on which the judge gave judgment.