Court orders stay of action on Saraki’s impeachment

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered a stay of action on any plan towards the impeachment of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, pending the determination of a suit filed by some senators challenging such planned impeachment.

Senators Rafiu Adebayo (Kwara South) and Isa Misau (Bauchi Central) have dragged the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Inspector-General of Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) before the court seeking for an order restraining them from aiding the forceful removal or impeachment of the Senate President from office.

Cited as defendants in the matter were the Senate, the Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Senator Ahmed Lawal (Senate Leader), Senator Bala Ibn Nallah (Deputy Senate Leader), Senator Emma Buacha (Deputy Minority Leader), Clerk of the Senate, Deputy Clerk of the Senate, the Attorney General of the Federation, Inspector General of Police and the DSS.

At a resumed hearing, counsel to the plaintiffs, Emeka Etiaba (SAN) informed the court that he had a motion ex parte dated August 27 and filed same day.

The ex parte was filed pursuant to Order 26 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules.

Basically, the ex parte motion sought an order of interim injunction (in reliefs 1, 2, and 3), restraining the defendants from taking any untoward action or move to forcefully remove or impeach the Senate President from office.
Reliefs 4 and 5 prayed the court for an order of substituted service of court processes on the defendants.

In his submission, Etiaba argued that in the event the court was constrained to grant reliefs 1, 2, and 3, “Our alternative prayer is for the court to make preservatory orders in order to protect the res (subject matter) of the suit.”

He posited that preservatory orders will take away their fears, stressing that under section 6 of the Constitution, the court has inherent jurisdiction to make such an order.

In a short ruling, the vacation Judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, held that in respect of reliefs 1, 2, and 3, which are orders of interim injunction: “I believe the proper order to make is an order of accelerated hearing of the suit so that the court can consider and determine the merits of the substantive case expeditiously.

“Even though reliefs 1, 2, and 3, are not granted, needless to say, parties have been enjoined to respect the authority of the court and the integrity of the judicial process and should not take steps that will render the matter nugatory.”

Furthermore, the court granted reliefs 4 and 5, and directed substituted service of court processes, the originating summons and motion for injunction on the 1st to 8th defendants through clerk of the National Assembly.

In addition, Justice Dimgba ordered substituted service on the 10th to 12th defendants by courier service.

The court later adjourned the hearing of the originating summons to September 6, for accelerated hearing.

In the motion, the plaintiffs are praying for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 4th to 11th defendants, jointly and severally either by themselves, their agents, servants or privies, assigns however so-called from unlawfully removing the 2nd defendant as the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The plaintiffs are also seeking for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 9th to 10th defendants from unlawfully interfering with the lawful legislative duties of the 2nd defendant as the President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

Also, they seek an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the 10th to 11th defendants from harassing, hounding, intimidating, arresting or detaining the 2nd defendant in respect of the lawful exercise of his duties pursuant to Section 50(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as attended), until the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

More so, the plaintiffs want the court to make an order directing the parties in the suit to maintain status quo pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

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