By Shola Abayomi
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja today (Friday) ruled against the defection of Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker Yakubu Dogara, Senator Godswill Akpabio and others, saying their defections did not meet the prescribed conditions.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Okon Abang held that based on the judgement of the Supreme Court, which gave conditions that could allow for defection, the lawmakers did not meet that requirement.
The judgement followed a suit filed by the Legal Defence Assistance Project (LEDAP), challenging the defection of the Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and 51 other lawmakers.
LEDAP had asked the court to order the lawmakers to vacate their seats in the National Assembly and return all salaries and allowances earned since their defection, arguing that the lawmakers defected from their political parties for selfish reasons other than division in their parties as prescribed by law
Also In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/996/2018, the plaintiff, through his lawyer, Mr. Jubril Okutekpa, SAN, had applied for an order of mandamus to compel the court to prevail on the Deputy Senate President and the Deputy Speaker to declare vacant the seats of 54 federal lawmakers that decamped from their respective political parties prior to the 2019 general election.
The Plaintiff had, among other things, prayed the court to order the affected lawmakers to refund all salaries and emoluments they received after they dumped the various political parties that sponsored their election.
Among those the Plaintiff is asking the court to declare their seats vacant, include the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara. Others are 17 Senators and 37 House of Reps members.
The plaintiff had through his lawyer, Mr. Jubril Okutekpa, SAN, argued that the only way to curb gale of defections that herald major elections in the country, was for the court to make Saraki and other defectors lose their seats in order to serve as deterrent to others.
The plaintiff also observed that the defection of Saraki and others is illegal and ran contrary to section 68 of the 1999 Constitution.
Those affected by the ruling of the court, apart from Saraki, include Senators Dino Melaye, Rabiu Kankwaso, Lanre Tejuoso, Shaaba Lafiagi, Rafiu Ibrahim, Barnabas Gemade, Abdulazeez Nyako, Monsurat Sunmonu, Usman Nafada, Suleiman Hunkuyi, Ibrahim Danbaba, Ubale Shittu, lsah Misau, Suleiman Nafif.
In the House of Representatives, affected members include Hon. Zakari Mohammed, Hon. Aminu Shagari, Hon Ooker-Jev, Hon. Rufai Chanchangi, Hon. Abdulsamad Dasuki, Hon. Sani Zoro, Hon. Benjamin Okolo, Hon. Bode Ayorinde, Hon. Sani Rank, Hon. Dickson Tarkighir, among others.