Defection: Suit seeking removal of Saraki, Dogara, other lawmakers adjourned

The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, Friday adjourned to April 18, the suit seeking Saraki, Dogara and other defected National Assembly lawmakers to vacate their seats.
It also granted a memorandum of conditional appearance to the first and second sets of defendants in the suit filed by a civil group, Legal Defence And Assistance Project, LEDAP, against the 54 affected lawmakers who defected from their political parties ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Further, the court granted an extension of time to enable the defence counsel, Safiya Abdullahi representing the second sets of defendants made up of defected lawmakers in the House of Representatives to file certain processes.
The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang who said he would look into the competing rights of the parties to justice also held that the plaintiff counsel, Jibrin Okutepa was at liberty to reply to any processes served on him before April 15 as defence counsels could also reply before April 17.
It would be recalled that the court would have delivered judgment yesterday over this suit praying it to order the defendants to vacate their seats and, stop receiving further entitlements but for Mahmoud Magaji, SAN, who made a case of fair hearing for the national lawmakers.
But in another twist, Magaji who was represented in court today by Efut Okoi did not announce his appearance for all the defected lawmakers but limited his legal representation only to those in the upper chamber while Abdullahi made appearance for the defected lawmakers in the lower chamber.
In his words, Okoi said, “My Lord, I’m here for 2 – 18 and 57 defendants only. In the National Assembly, the Senate President doesn’t have absolute control of the lawmakers in the House of Representatives. Hence, the lawmakers have to hire their own legal representation.
“My Lord, it is their fundamental right to freely elect a counsel of their choice to represent them”.
It was on this basis that Abdullahi also announced her appearance for the 19 – 55 and 58 defendants involving lawmakers in the lower chamber.
After the consideration of the ensued legal fireworks, Justice Abang adjourned the case to April 18, for further hearing without fail at noon.

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