Law News
Senate committees: Court rejects moves to stop Saraki

A Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected a prayer by five senators opposed to the emergence of Bukola Saraki as the Senate President to stop the upper legislative chamber from constituting its standing and ad hoc committees.

The five plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/651/2015 – Senators Abu Ibrahim, Kabir Marafa, Ajayi Boroffice, Olugbenga Ashafa and Suleiman Hunkuni – made the request in an ex parte application which was moved by their lawyer Chief Mamman Osuman (SAN), on Tuesday.

They had anchored their ex parte application on the use of alleged illegitimate and unconstitutional Senate Standing Orders 2015 to conduct the election of the current leadership of the Senate on June 9.

The plaintiffs alleged that the Senate Standing Orders 2015 was “contrived” from the amendment of the 2011 version of the Orders without following its (the 2011 edition’s) relevant provisions and those of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

They argued that the said amendment was in breach of the “prescriptive procedures” stipulated by the extant provisions of section 60 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Rule 110(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the Senate Standing Orders 2011 (as amended).

In their ex parte application supported by an affidavit of urgency, the plaintiffs had on Tuesday urged the court to stop the constitution of the Senate committees pending the hearing and determination of their separate application for interim injunction.

But Justice Gabriel Kolawole in his ruling dismissed the ex parte application, holding that the urgency attached to it was self-induced.

This, the judge held, was because the plaintiffs had been aware of the alleged use of the illegitimate standing orders since June 9, 2015 but only chose to file the ex parte application dated on July 27, which was barely 24 hours to resumption of the Senate from its about one month recess.

The judge also held that the court would hardly intervene in a matter relating to the application or misapplication of the internal rules of the Senate or the legislature when such action did not amount to “subtantial infraction” of the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He held that in matters relating to disputes over the “the decision reached by a majority of the members of the Senate”, aggrieved members of the arm of government could only seek a redress by mobilising their colleagues to reverse such decision.

He held that in various appellate courts’ decisions, courts had been warned “to be wary” in intervening in such internal legislative activities, let alone granting an order to restrain the activities of that arm of government at the stage of an ex parte hearing.

“In the light of the above analysis, I will be unable to grant the ex parte application dated July 24 and only filed on July 27, 2015 by only five out of the 109 senators constitutionally elected to the upper legislative chamber,” Justice Kolawole ruled.

He therefore ordered the plaintiffs to serve the motion on notice seeking the same prayer contained in their ex parte application on the defendants.

The judge adjourned hearing of the motion on notice till August 5, adding that after the hearing and upon service of the defendants with the processes of the main suit, he would return the case file to the Chief Judge.

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