Court declares suspension of House members illegal

(m) at 3-12-2010 10:49AM (9 years ago)

(18353 | Hero)

A federal high court in Abuja yesterday nullified the suspension of members of the House of Representatives who accused the speaker of misappropriation. The court declared their suspension since June as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void, and of no effect.

Delivering judgment in the matter brought by Dino Melaye, Independence Ogunewe, Solomon Ahiwinahwi, Bitrus Kazeh, Abba Anas Adamu and Austin Nwachukwu, presiding Judge Adamu Bello, held that the House has no powers to suspend any member beyond 14 legislative sitting under sections 24 of the Legislative Act and privileges Order 5 (1) Sub-rule 2 and 3 and Rule 3 of the House.

Breach of House rules

Mr Bello said although the sections only allowed the House to suspend an errant member for two weeks, the plaintiffs were suspended indefinitely. “They cannot be shut out forever, because they are representing their people,” he said. He noted that this is a breach of the House rules and of the constitution.

Reacting to the judgment, chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Eseme Eyiboh, said they have not been served with the court judgment so the suspended lawmakers will keep serving their punishment until the House studies the situation to decide whether to appeal the judgment or not.

The affected lawmakers were suspended on June 22, for allegedly accusing Speaker Dimeji Bankole of misappropriating N9 billion between 2008 and 2009. The event that led to their suspension was followed by a rowdy session in which they struggled to seize the maze, leading to a fracas in which many were wounded. Mr. Melaye, who was the arrowhead of the group which called itself the Integrity Group, had his clothes torn and he also sustained injuries.

A denial of representation

In their joint motion, argued by Femi Falana, the lawmakers insisted that they were elected for a tenure of four years and that the Speaker had no right to cut the tenure short for any reason. They claimed that their suspension has denied their respective constituencies of representation in the lower chamber of the National Assembly. They prayed the court to set aside the suspension pending the final determination of their main suit.

In his defence, the Speaker of the House urged the court to dismiss the motion of the suspended lawmakers as frivolous and lacking in merit. Mr Bankole argued that what the suspended lawmakers were seeking was a shortcut to justice, adding that there would be nothing left for the court to adjudicate upon once the embattled lawmakers resumed their seats.

Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Mr. Bankole, told the court that Mr. Melaye and his group were suspended from the House because of their unruly behaviour and the un-parliamentary condition in the house the day they were suspended. He observed that the lawmakers goofed in their claims that the House has no power under the constitution to suspend them.

One of the suspended members, Mr. Nwachukwu, withdrew his case against the Speaker of the House, on the premise that his family and his constituents have directed him to terminate the case in the interest of peace.

Two of the suspended members; Ehiogie Idahosa (Edo State) and Olugbenga Onigbogi (Osun State), were, recently, recalled after more than three months.

Fair hearing

The judge said that the plaintiff were not given fair hearing as provided for by Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and that the House acted outside its powers by placing them on indefinite suspension instead of 14 days which the law provided for. He said the House ought to have referred the offence to the House committee on privileges and petition where they would have been given the opportunity to defend themselves.

“On this ground, I thereby nullify the suspension of the plaintiffs, it is null and void and it has no effect because something cannot be placed on nothing. I hope this judgment will facilitate the process of reconciliation and lasting peace in the House”, Mr. Bello said.

The national leadership of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), had earlier directed the 11 suspended members to withdraw their case against the House.

At a meeting between the group and the national working committee of the party led by its chairman, Okwesilieze Nwodo, on August 4, the suspended lawmakers were told that the only way the party could intervene was for them to ask their lawyer to stop the case.

adewalefisayo (m) at 3-12-2010 11:54AM
(373 | Upcoming)

ladyb4u (f) at 3-12-2010 12:44PM
(94 | Newbie)

passing............. Lips Sealed
kokokool (m) at 3-12-2010 03:44PM
(381 | Upcoming)

monday3 (m) at 3-12-2010 07:16PM
(814 | Upcoming)

princedafe (m) at 4-12-2010 07:58AM
(3944 | Gistmaniac)

Freesmile (m) at 4-12-2010 10:35AM
(790 | Upcoming)

omenajak (m) at 4-12-2010 10:52AM
(11 | Newbie)

That the court have upturned the suspension of some law makers shows that most of the actions taken in that hallow chambers is laced with illigality .The evil of rigging elections have manifested in most of our executive and legislative chambers,where better no do wells preside over desent citizens,that is why they are thinking of insighting right of first refusal into the amended constitution because the have no electoral value and morally deficient to go back to their constutients to ask for a freash mandate , oh what a Nation .
chrisfab (m) at 4-12-2010 11:27PM
(481 | Upcoming)

Dats their biz