The Court of Appeal sitting in Benin City on Thursday threw out the application brought before it by four suspended members of Edo State House Assembly, which challenged an order restraining them from the House, saying the application lacked merit as they had refused to obey the interim order slammed on them by a lower court.
The four lawmakers, Patrick Osayimen, Jude Ise-Idehen, Friday Ogierakhi and former Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, were of the All progressives Congress (APC) before they recently defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
They were suspended by the House but they refused to accept the action, saying it was not duly done. They also defied an interim order restraining them from going to the legislative chambers and quarters, and approached the Court of Appeal to challenge the order.
However, in her ruling, Justice H. M. Ogunwumiju, along with two other justices, said the lawmakers could not come to challenge a valid order that they did not obey, adding that they should have obeyed the order restraining them from coming into the House of Assembly in the first place and allowed the motion on notice to be argued.
He said, “It is quite lawful also that stay of execution is not granted in void; the party in contempt cannot deliberately flout an order of the court and proceed to seek remedy in a higher court while still in contempt of the lower court.
“The pursuit of a judicious hearing of the pending motion on notice of the interlocutory injunction in the lower court seems to be the proper course to follow so that the right of the application will be deliberated upon. The application is premature, devoid of merit and is hereby dismissed”.
Counsel to the four suspended lawmakers, Ferdinand Orbih, said they would study the ruling and then decide on the next line of action.
Counsel to the All Progressive Congress (APC) lawmakers, Ken Mozia, said the ruling would enable them to continue committal proceedings against the suspended lawmakers for contempt of court.
“The police have a duty to comply with the law; the high court spoke, they did not obey, and now the Court of Appeal has removed every vestige of justification that they may have. So now they have been told in clear terms that the parties concerned must comply with the order so let us see what they will do”.