A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed April 30, for definite hearing of a suit filed by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege against the Senate, the Senate President, and the Attorney General of the Federation.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/314/2018, Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central Senatorial district is challenging his suspension from the Senate.
Among other reliefs, the plaintiff sort for, “A declaration that the 1st and 2nd defendants’ referral of the plaintiff to the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions for trial for expressing his opinion on the purport of a Section of the Electoral Act N0. 6, 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017 is an act calculated to interfere with or likely to constitute a breach of the plaintiff’s fundamental human right to freedom of expression without interference as guaranteed by Section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 [as amended] and Article 9(2) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act Cap A9 LFN, 2004.
“A declaration that the description of the plaintiff’s expression of his opinion on the purport of a Section of the Electoral Act No.6, 2010 (Amendment) Bill 2017 in the 1st defendant’s Votes and Proceedings of Tuesday, 20th February, 2018 as “….. “malicious, unfounded and aimed at smearing the reputation of the Senate as an Institution…” makes the allegation against the plaintiff which was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethic, Privileges and Public Petitions] offence[s] under the provisions of Section 24(a) and or 24(c) of the Legislative Powers and Privileges Act Cap L12 LFN 2004 and therefore cognizable only by court of competent jurisdiction as, provided by Section 36(4) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 [as amended].
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, their servants, agents, privies, officers or otherwise howsoever from interfering with the plaintiffs rights and or privileges as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or and preventing him from entering or remaining within the precinct or Chamber of the Senate or National Assembly or attempting to forcibly remove him from the chamber or precinct of the National Assembly or in any way impeding or undermining the plaintiff’s ability to function as a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The plaintiff’s originating summon was filed by Alex Izinyon SAN.
The presiding judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba declined the exparte motion filed by Omo-Agege through his counsel l, Izinyon, seeking prohibitive injunction against the Senate.
Justice Dimgba however ordered that the Senate, and it’s President to show the court cause why the reliefs being sought by the plaintiff should not be granted.
The court gave the 1st and 2nd respondents 7 days to show cause.
In addition, the court ordered accelerated hearing of the matter, and adjourned to April 27, for definite hearing.
At the resumed of the proceedings, Izinyon informed the court that he was ready to move his motion since the suit was slated for hearing of the substantive matter.
However, counsel to the 1st and 2nd respondents, Mahmud Magaji SAN, opposed, saying he had filed a memorandum of conditional appearance.
Magaji said he filed an application seeking the court to set aside it’s order which granted abridgement of time to hear the suit.
Pressing for an adjournment, Magaji told the court that he was just briefed on April 19, adding that he has not even cited any of the originating processes.
He insisted that what he was served with was an enrolled order abridging time, and asking them to show cause.
In his response, Izinyon confirmed to the court that counsel to the 1st and 2nd respondents had served him with a motion containing one prayer.
Izinyon told Justice Dimgba that the respondents had been duly served with the originating summon.
Justice Dimgba said the court is guided by the record, “I am aware that I made an order for accelerated hearing”.
“The court has proof of service that the 1st and 2nd respondents had been served through the clerk of the senate.
“I have to protect the integrity of the court. On two occasions, this court had respected the Senate and as well, I expect the Senate to respect the court” Justice Dimgba said.
The matter was thereafter adjourned till April , for hearing of the substantive suit.
He however directed the respondents to serve advance copies of their counter affidavits and other porocesses to the plaintiffs through email, not later than 7pm of April 27