Senate leadership: Court throws out suit seeking to stop Saraki, Ekweremadu’s sack

A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday struck out a suit seeking to stop the removal of Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively.

The Incorporated Trustees of the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance (CSOCLC), had last year, approached the court to determine whether Saraki and Ekweremadu could be removed from office without a resolution of the Senate and supported by votes of two-thirds or 73 members of the Senate.

Delivering judgment in the suit Monday, Justice John Tsoho held that the plaintiff failed to adduce credible evidence in support of his case.

The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/936/2018 had urged the court to declare that Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be removed from office as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate unless pursuant to a resolution supported by the votes of not less than 73 members of the Senate.

Although the judge held that both Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be validly removed from office without a resolution of the Senate and supported by a vote of 73 senators, he however dismissed the suit on the grounds that the newspaper reports alleging threats of removing Saraki and Ekweremadu from the office of Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively, which the plaintiff tendered as evidence in support of the suit, are not admissible in law.

Citing Supreme Court judgments in that direction, Justice Tsoho said: “There is no evidential value in the newspaper publications tendered by the plaintiff”, because the report of the newspaper are not statement made by the maker of the document.

The judge held that the plaintiff failed to show any credible evidence to persuade the court in any way to grant the declarative reliefs it sought from the court.…

“I hold that the plaintiff has failed to adduce credible and cogent evidence in support of its originating summons.

“Accordingly, all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff cannot be granted due to lack of credible evidence. The suit, as filed by the plaintiff is hereby struck out,” the judge held.

In the originating summons dated August 24, 2018, the group argued that by the clear and extant provisions of section 50(2) (c) of the 1999 constitution, Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be removed from their offices unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

The plaintiff in an 11- paragraph affidavit, in support of the originating summons, stated that some All Progressives Congress (APC) members of the Senate connived with the Executive arm of government and security agencies to harass Saraki and Ekweremadu with the motive to illegally remove them from office.

In the affidavit deposed to by one ThankGod Ubani, the plaintiff averred that: “On the first day, they planned to illegally and unlawfully remove the 1st and 2nd defendants from office by trying to prevent them from coming to the National Assembly so they could be removed in their absence.”

The plaintiff therefore posed the following questions for the court’s determination, “Whether by the clear and extant provisions of section 50(2) (c) of the 1999 constitution, a President of the Senate and a Deputy President of the Senate such as Saraki and Ekweremadu can be removed from their said offices as President of the Senate and deputy President of the Senate respectively unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.

“Whether by the combined provisions of sections 3(1) and (4) and (48) of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not comprised of 109 members and whether two-thirds majority of the 109 members of the Senate is not comprised of 73 members.

“Whether the 1st and 2nd defendants can be removed from office as President of the Senate and Deputy President of the Senate respectively unless pursuant to a resolution supported by the votes of not less than 73 members of the Senate.” – Thisday.

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