Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The legal moves to stop a federal lawmaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, from emerging the Speaker of the House of Representatives have taken another dimension before the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
A Nigerian citizen, Philip Undie, had approached the court in an originating summons to stop Gbajabiamila from becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives over his alleged conviction in the US for fraud-related offences.
The plaintiff urged the court to hold that having been so convicted, he was 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 of the 9th National Assembly.
Although the case has not been given a hearing date, a member of the House of Representatives and Leader of the South East Caucus of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Hon. Raphael Nnanna Igbokwe has applied to be joined in the suit as a respondent.
In his application, Igbokwe stated that he is a member of the House of Representatives who swore to an oath to defend the Law and the Constitution.
Igbokwe further told the court that he is a member of the APC which has backed the candidacy of Gbajabiamila for the speakership of the 9th Assembly of the House of Representatives.
The lawmaker deposed to the fact that “anything contrary will be giving room for somebody from another party to take up the seat and this will affect him and his party as the APC-led government will not be able to carry out its policies effectively.”
In urging the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit, Igbokwe challenged the locus standi of the plaintiff to institute the case.
Besides, he further urged the court to decline its jurisdiction to adjudicate on the case as subject matter of the suit falls within pre-election matters.
He further argued that the elections having been concluded, the matter could only be canvassed in the election petition tribunal.
The applicant is also contending that the matter was status barred having been instituted after 14days from occurrence of the event.
“That the suit is dilatory and aimed at distracting members of the 9th Assembly in electing their preferred candidate.”
In the substantive suit, the plaintiff is further asking the court to restrain the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Attorney General of the Federation and the All Progressives Congress, who are the first to fourth defendants in the matter, from recognising Gbajabiamila as a member of the House of Representatives and as an aspirant for the office of the Speaker of the House.