The All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the House of Representatives on Tuesday rose from an emergency meeting with the resolve that members, who recently defected to the party from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, would vacate their seats in defiance of a directive by Justice Adeniyi Ademola of an Abuja High Court.
Justice Ademola in his ruling a day earlier, said the defected lawmakers were supposed to have honorably vacated their seats after they dumped the party on whose platform they got elected to the National Assembly and barred them from contributing to any motion or debate on the floor of the House.
But the Minority Leader in the House, Samson Osagie (APC, Edo), who spoke with reporters on behalf of his colleagues, stated that the 39 APC lawmakers affected by the ruling yesterday filed a notice of appeal challenging the decision of the High Court.
Holding on to a copy of the appeal filed by Mr. Mahmud Magaji (SAN) and copied to the House of Representatives, the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal and the Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha, the minority leader insisted that the judgment was not worth obeying since in his opinion, it ran contrary to the rule of law.
Osagie alleged that Justice Ademola steered off course in the case brought before him to do the bidding of the PDP. The minority leader, who was flanked by his colleagues affected by the court ruling, further claimed that the decision must have been masterminded by the presidency to take public attention away from the decay and corruption in the polity.
Osagie said: “For us in the APC, we were not surprised because in the course of the proceedings, the same judge had earlier issued a preservative order as soon as the argument against his jurisdiction in the case was taken.
“This was our first apprehension of the commencement of the case. Our fear was further confirmed when the judge, after granting the reliefs sought in the suit, went ahead to render an opinion on issues that were neither before him nor solicited by the plaintiffs.
“Consequently, a section of the media and indeed the public have been misled by the court ruling into believing that the said judgment has effectively terminated the tenure of office of the affected members. This is not only untrue, but also a mere obiter dicta expressed by a judge who veered off the course of the case before him in order to do the bidding of the ruling party.
“At best, the judgment has turned law on its head and cannot stand. Our colleagues have taken steps to appeal the judgment and we are confident that justice will prevail. In the meantime, we want to assure members of the public that there is no court judgment before the House directing any member of the APC to vacate his or her seat.
“In any event, Section 68 (2) of the 1999 Constitution makes it clear that satisfactory evidence must be presented to the House before any of the provision of Section 68 (1) can become applicable. At the moment, the APC in the House remains strong and focus on the need to provide necessary checks and balances to the rudderlessness of the ship of state as being piloted by the ruling party in this country today.
“At a time when this government is unable to explain to Nigerians the whereabouts of huge missing funds; at a time when profligacy among ministers of this government has reached its crescendo; at a time when scores and thousands have been sent to their untimely graves under a scheme purported to be a recruitment sham; at a time when government assets in the power sector have been sold out with Nigerians experiencing more darkness than light; at a time when insecurity and insurgency have almost defied government emergency rule and at a time when mis-governance has taken centre stage while Nigerians have continued to wallow in abject penury, the PDP government has continued to run the country like the private fiefdom of those holding the reins of power.
“Nigerians, we know, cannot succumb to the shenanigans of the ruling party that has plundered this nation for 15 years. The House of Representatives remains the bastion of hope of the traumatised and pauperised Nigerians and we shall not give in to the attempt of some of our PDP colleagues in collusion with a certain judge to turn facts and law on its head to achieve some sinister ends.
“Finally, for the avoidance of doubt, let me state unequivocally on behalf our members that the import of yesterday’s ruling was that our 37 members cannot participate in the removal of principal officers of the House, nothing more, nothing less. Every other pronouncement by the judge as to the status of our 37 members of the House were mere opinion, In any event, this judgment was given in vain and in ignorance of the House rules which governs the appointment of party leaders in the parliament. It is also an attempt by the court to meddle in the internal affairs of the parliament. This certainly is not the import of the doctrine of judicial review”.