Two lawyers on Monday filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Lagos asking that Aminu Tambuwal be restrained henceforth from parading himself as the Speaker of House of Representatives.
The lawyers, Anthony Nwajiugo and Okechukwu Ebirim, argued that having defected from the party upon which he was elected into the House, Tambuwal “cannot remain and has, by his action, lost the competence to remain the Speaker.”
They specifically argued that the House of Representatives as presently constituted under Tambuwal’s leadership could not embark on any legislative business including the adjournment of plenary sessions or the impeachment of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Tambuwal had defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He had hinged his defection on the crisis within the PDP in his home state of Sokoto.
In the wake of defection, it was also widely reported that about 215 members of the House of Representatives and 63 Senators had signed to commence impeachment proceedings against Jonathan.
When the case came up, trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba directed the applicants to address him on why the matter was filed in Lagos and not Abuja, being the place of business of the sole defendant in the suit, the House of Representatives.
Ebirim, who addressed the court, said the matter was a constitutional matter which could as well be filed in the Lagos division of the court.
He added that the House of Representatives also conduct part of its business in Lagos at its liaison office, and that the court was a proper venue for the matter to be filed.
But in a brief ruling, Justice Buba transferred the matter to the Abuja division of the court, and further directed the applicants to approach the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta for further directive on when the matter would come up in Abuja.
The applicants specifically formulated two questions for determination and they are: “Whether by the combined effect of Sections 68 (1) (g) and 50 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), Hon. Aminu Tambuwal of Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency of Sokoto State is competent to remain the presiding officer and speaker of House of Representatives?
“Whether by the clear combined effect of the provision of Section 50 (1) (b) and Section 50 (2) (a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the House of Representatives is properly constituted with a competent and constitutional speaker as to enable it proceed on its regular legislative business?”
In an affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by the first applicant (Nwajiugo), the deponent averred that by virtue of his citizenship and training as a lawyer, he was aware that Section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution provided that a member of Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat upon defection from the party that sponsored him or her before the expiration of his or her tenure.
He added that the suit was filed basically to challenge the propriety of Tambuwal presiding over the House business, especially the plans to impeach Jonathan.