Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The fierce contest for the speakership position of the House of Representatives in the 9th National Assembly has taken a legal dimension with a lawsuit asking the Abuja division of the Federal High Court to disqualify one of the contestant, Umar Bago, from the race over alleged financial misappropriation.
In the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/598/2019, an
Abuja-based legal practitioner, Paul Ajiroba, urged the court restrain Umar Bago of Chanchanga federal constituency of Niger State from contesting for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives in the 9th Assembly.
The suit filed on June 3, 2019, also listed the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Polaris Bank Plc as respondents.
In his originating summons, the plaintiff, who claimed to be passionate about good governance, transparency, and integrity in governance, also prayed the court to void the nomination and election of Umar Bago, having not qualified to run for such office.
He prayed the court to determine among others “whether by virtue of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the first defendant was qualified to aspire and to run for the office of member of the House of Representatives since 2011, having been dismissed or relieved from his employment from Afribank Nigeria Plc (now Polaris Bank) for misappropriation, conversion of depositors’ money to personal use and related offences.
“Whether by virtue of the sack, dismissal or compulsory relive of the first defendant from the employment of the Afribank Plc (now Polaris Bank) for financial misappropriation, conversion of depositors funds to personal use and financial impropriety, the first defendant is not disqualified from running for the office of member, House of Representatives, or even speaker of the House”.
The plaintiff said in an affidavit he deposed to personally, that he was aware that Hon. Bago, who has been a member of the House since 2011, was currently aspiring for the position of Speaker of the House of Reps.
Ajiroba said Hon. Bago had worked as a manager of Minna branch of Afribank Plc in 2008 and was sacked in 2009 for allegedly mismanaging depositors’ funds, thereby defrauding the bank and embarrassing it before its customers.
The plaintiff averred that the first defendant allegedly dipped his hands into the funds belonging to one of the customers of the bank and converted about N200 million against normal banking process.
He alleged that “that Umar Bago had dipped his hands into the said account and had converted same to personal use, an abuse of his office, without the consent and approval of the bank and its customer.”
He further averred that when the owner of the money demanded it, it was not available for payment, causing the bank a serious embarrassment.
This development, he said led to the sack of Hon. Umar Bago for abuse of office, financial impropriety and conversion of depositors’ funds to personal use from the bank in 2009 and as such, unfit and unqualified to aspire for the position of member of the House of Representatives or speaker of the House.