Lawyers condemn lawmakers’ refusal to leave office after court order
The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has called on Senate President Bukola Saraki to honour the judgment of a Federal High Court in Uyo regarding the representation of Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District at the Senate.
The AGF, in a letter with reference number No. MJ/LIT/ABJ/MOC/112/17 reads in part: “The Senate of NASS is therefore required to comply with the judgment in suit No FHC/UY/CS/1087/2015 between Bassey Etim and People’s Democratic Party two others by swearing in Bassey Etim as the senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District in the Senate of the NASS.”
The Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, presided over by Justice Fatun Riman, had on February 27, 2017 ordered the senator representing Akwa Ibom North-East in the National Assembly, Bassey Akpan, to vacate his seat immediately.
The court also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to withdraw the Certificate of Return it issued to Akpan and awarded N200,000 cost in favour of the plaintiff, Mr. Bassey Etim.
In a similar trend, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had ordered the senator representing Taraba North Senatorial District, Alhaji Sani Abubakar Danladi, and a member representing Vandikwa/ Konshisha Constituency of Benue State Iorwase Herman Hembe, to vacate the seat immediately and refund all salaries and allowances received within 90 days.
Meanwhile, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, has said for any legislator removed by a court judgment to remain in the Senate is an illegal act that amounts to disobedience of court orders.
Ezechukwu said this yesterday while reacting to the recent judgments of the Supreme Court on the Taraba senatorial seat, Benue State House of Representatives seat and that of the Federal High Court, Uyo, regarding the representation of Akwa Ibom North-East Senatorial District at the Senate.
The senior lawyer said: “In reality, if a Supreme Court has declared a verdict on a matter, there is no reversal and the continuous stay of the other senator who was removed from the Senate by the Federal High Court, Uyo, is illegal.
“The Senate President refusal to swear in the person the judgment was passed in his favour amounts to disobedience to court order.”
Also, an Abuja-based human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Mr. Nkereuwem Akpan, has berated the Senate leadership on refusal to swear in Etim over an excuse of awaiting legal advice from Legal Department of the National Assembly.
According to him, just like any other decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, the judgment of the Uyo State High Court is valid and subsisting, adding that it is “hypocritical, unconstitutional and immoral for Saraki to disrespect the ruling of the court.”