Nigeria News

NIGERIA: Lawyers, politicians express mixed reactions over court judgement on lawmakers

Some lawyers on Tuesday in Lagos expressed mixed reactions to the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja on 42 members of the House of Representatives that defected from the PDP to the APC.
The PDP had on Jan. 7 instituted a suit seeking to restrain the House of Representatives from altering the composition of its leadership.
It had commenced the action following the defection of the legislators, who won elections on its platform, to the opposition APC.
Justice Adeniyi Ademola, in his judgment on Monday, had held that the 12th to 53rd defendants (those who defected) could not vote to remove the leadership of the House and could not sponsor a motion to that effect.
Ademola said that the defectors had no business remaining in the House since they had left the party that brought them in and should have resigned honourably.
He said that facts before the court indicated that there was no division in the PDP.
The judge made an order of perpetual injunction restraining the 42 lawmakers from taking part  in  any move to alter the leadership of the House.
Reacting to the judgment, the lawyers, in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), shared different views.
A Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), said the lawmakers had the right to defect to the APC due to the crisis within the PDP.
“If there is a crisis in your party leading to factions of at least two or more and your faction decides to change party, then the change does not affect your seat.
“This is based on the fact that you left because the party has broken into factions and I think these people are properly covered by that provision,” Sagay said.
However, another lawyer, Mr Wale Ogunade, hailed the judgment, saying it would bring sanity to the nation’s democracy.
Ogunade, said:” The judge got the law right and he interpreted it right.
“The legislators got elected under the PDP and if they know they want to abandon that platform, they should resign honourably.
“In Nigeria, people don’t vote for individuals, they vote for political parties. They got elected on the platform and they did not get there as independent candidates.
“That is the fundamental issue,” he said.
Mr Adebamigbe Omole, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, said the judgment violated the constitutional right to association and he believed it would be set aside at the appellate court.
“The Constitution guarantees the right of association. You have the right to choose which party you want to belong to,” he said.
Some politicians also expressed mixed reactions over the judgment.
A former National Publicity Secretary, Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA), Mr Sam Onimisi, described the judgment as a “welcome development’’.
Onimisi said that the judgment should have come long before now.
“I like the judgment but it should have started long ago and applied to all parties across board irrespective of whether the party is in power or not.
“Once you are elected by a party, you should be able to stay there to fulfil the wishes and desires of the electorate,’’ he said.
A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), Mr Denis Aghanya, also supported the ruling of the court.
“That is just the ideal thing to do because it is political parties that sponsor candidates to elections,’’ Aghanya said.
In his contribution, a chieftain of the Kano State APC, Alhaji Musa Umar, said that the judgment was “contestable’’.
“That judgment is contestable, the court of appeal will hear the case, otherwise, the lawmakers can still take their case to the final court of public jurisdiction, by testing their popularity at the polls again,’’ he said.
NAN reports that the lawmakers that defected have indicated their intention to appeal the court’s decision. (NAN)
 

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