Ahead of Tuesday’s inauguration of the new 8th National Assembly, a Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday rejected a prayer for the disqualification of a member-elect and the immediate past Minority Leader in the 7th House of Representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, from contesting the position of the Speaker.
The All Progressives Congress, which constitutes the majority in the incoming National Assembly, had, after a mock election it organised on Saturday, nominated Gbajabiamila as its sole candidate for the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The inauguration of the new 8th National Assembly and election of the principal officers of both the Senate and the House of Representatives will hold on Tuesday.
A group, Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Initiative, had, on June 4, 2015, filed an ex parte application asking the court to restrain the House of Representatives from accepting Gbajabiamila’s nomination as an aspirant for the speakership position.
The plaintiff filed the ex parte application along with the main suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/501/2015) in which Gbajabiamila, the House of Representatives and the Attorney-General of the Federation were joined as the 1st to the 3rd defendants.
It also filed a motion on notice seeking an interim injunction against respondents, a prayer similar to what is contained in its ex parte application.
The plaintiff’s prayer was anchored on alleged “conviction” of Gbajabiamila in the state of Georgia, United States of America, for unethical practices in the course of his practice as a lawyer.
Gbajabiamila was said to have been suspended from practising as a lawyer for 36 months in Georgia State of the USA.
The plaintiff also accused Gbajabiamila of possessing United State of America’s passport even as a Nigerian descent. The plaintiff alleged this contravened “our Constitution as regards membership of the House of Representatives.”
The plaintiff in its prayer in the ex parte application sought “an interim injunction restraining the 2nd defendant (the House of Representatives from accepting the nomination of the 1st defendant (Gbajabiamila) as an aspirant for the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
But Justice Abdukadir Abdu-Kafarati, on Monday, rejected the plaintiff’s ex parte application seeking to disqualify Gbajabiamila to contest for the office of the Speaker.
The judge, who heard the plaintiff’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), inside his chamber, however, ordered the respondents to appear in court on June 18 to show cause why the prayer sought by the plaintiff in the ex parte application should not be granted.
It was learnt that the judge ordered that the processes filed in the suit be served on all the respondents in the suit.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Social Justice and Civil Rights Awareness Initiatives, Alozie Nmeregwa, stated in the affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, that Gbajabiamila’s character had been tainted and thus not qualify to hold the office of the Speaker.
The affidavit read in part, “That few days ago, it came to public knowledge that the 1st defendant was a leading candidate to the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In the motion on notice, the plaintiff urged the court to determine “whether, upon the construction of Section 66 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the 1st defendant is a fit and proper person to be elected to the House of Representatives and/or the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.”
It consequently argued that the 1st defendant is not a fit and proper person to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives and/or as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Source: The Punch