Law News
Court rules on appointment of Senate minority leader Wednesday

A Federal High Court has fixed Wednesday for the ruling on an ex parte application seeking an order to restrain the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and members of the Peoples Democratic Party caucus from the South-South in the Senate from appointing the Senate Minority Leader.

The plaintiffs – Alaye Pedro and Dr. Okechukwu Ibeh – who are also members of the PDP, want the restraining order to last until the determination of their main suit.

Pedro is a PDP member from Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State while Ibeh is a PDP member from Umukegwu/Umuodia LGA of Imo State.

Their suit was anchored on the provision of Order 3(2) of Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) which prohibits the appointment of a first-time senator into the Senate’s principal offices.

From all indications, the suit is targeted at stopping the nomination or appointment of a former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Godswill Akpabio, a first-time senator who is from the South-South, the region to which the PDP had zoned the position.

The PDP, being the leading minority party in the Senate and, in fact, in the House of Representatives, is in the position to present the Minority Leader of the Senate.

Arguing the plaintiffs’ ex parte application on Tuesday, their lawyer, Mr. B. J Akomolafe, referred the judge to a newspaper report which indicates that Akpabio had been tipped for the position of the Senate Minority Leader.

The newspaper report marked “Exhibit D” was part of the exhibits filed along with the ex parte application and the main suit.

Saraki and Akpabio are the first and second respondents to the suit.

Other respondents are 16 PDP senators from the South-South and they include Nelson Effiong, Bassey Albert, Emmanuel Paulker, Ogola Foster, Ben Murray-Bruce, John Enoh, Gershom Bassey, Rose Oko, James Manager and Peter Nwaoboshi.

Others are Ighoyota Amori, Clifford Ordia, Matthew Urhoghide, George Sekibo, Olaka Nwogu, and Osinakchukwu Ideozu.

The two plaintiffs stated in separate supporting affidavits to the ex parte application that “the larger PDP caucus in the 8th National Assembly have concluded plans to subvert the mandatory provisions of Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders.”

Pedro and Ibeh contended in the affidavits that the PDP South-South caucus “is bound to select or appoint the Minority Leader in strict compliance with Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) which emphasis ranking as basis for appointment of principal officers”.

Akomolafe, in his argument urged the court to restrain the respondents from taking steps on the appointment of the Senate Majority Leader pending the determination of the suit.

He also asked the court to grant an order of substituted service on the respondents through newspaper publications.

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