The speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and his new party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday dragged the federal government and six others before the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, over the attempt to declare his seat vacant and the withdrawal of his security aides.
In a separate suit filed by the speaker through his lawyer, Dr Tunji Abayomi, he asked the court for a temporary order compelling the inspector-general of police to restore his security detail, pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Tambuwal, in the other suit filed at the registry of the court through Jubrin Okutepa (SAN), wants the court to declare that the attempt to declare his seat as a member and honourable speaker of the House of Representatives vacant, is unlawful and unconstitutional.
Cited as defendants in the suit are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), its national chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, inspector-general of police, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the attorney-general of the federation (AGF).
He further wants the court to declare that he remains a member and the speaker of the House of Representatives until the expiration of his current term of office on the June 5 2015.
Tambuwal also wants the court to declare that the withdrawal of his security detail when he has not been removed from office as speaker and member of the House of Representatives is illegal and unconstitutional.
He however prayed for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from taking any steps to interfere with or infringe on his rights and privileges as the speaker of the House of Representatives and as a member of the House before the expiration of his term.
He also wants the court to give an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from accepting any nomination of candidates or organising a by-election for the purpose of replacing him.
Also, Tambuwal wants an order of mandatory injunction compelling the IGP and the AGF to restore his security detail and all other rights, benefits and privileges appurtenant to members of the House and the office of the honourable speaker.
In a 4- paragraph affidavit deposed to by Tambuwal himself, he averred that “On the 28th day of October 2014, the PDP and its national chairman threatened to forcibly remove me from office as the speaker of the House of Representatives adding that the threat was made public as reported by some national dailies of October 29”.
He further averred that the “House of Representatives and the deputy speaker on October 30 began to strategise on how to unlawfully remove me from office as speaker of the House of Representatives.
“That I know that on the 30th day of October, 2014, the IG, at the behest of defendants withdrew my security detail thereby exposing me to danger of bodily harm all in their bid to forcibly remove from office,” Tambuwal stated.
The plaintiff also averred that he had become apprehensive that the defendants would use unlawful means to make good their threats if the court did not intervene to stop them.
In a separate suit filed by Dr Tunji Abayomi on behalf of Tambuwal, Abayomi prayed for a temporary order of court directing the return of the security aides of the speaker, pending the determination of the suit.
Abayomi also prayed the court for an order restraining the defendants from interfering with the rights and privileges attached to the office of the speaker, pending the determination of the suit.
The two cases are yet to be assigned to a judge.
Meanwhile, worried by the recent withdrawal of the security aides of the speaker, a number of groups as well as youths in Sokoto State have continued to criticise the action of the inspector-general of police, Suleiman Abba and the ruling PDP, describing it as a brazen act of impunity.
Addressing newsmen yesterday at the Gyginya Hotel in Sokoto, a group of elders under the aegis of Forum of Elders of the All Progressive Congress in the state, termed the withdrawal of the speaker’s security aides as illegal, despicable and an assault on democracy.
Insisting that the Nigeria Police and security agencies belong to everybody irrespective of party affiliation, chairman of the APC Elders Forum, Alhaji Arzika Tureta reminded the IGP of the need to be fair to all.
Citing the instances of Ondo State governor, Mr Olusegun Mimiko, who recently defected from the Labour Party (LP) to the PDP without his security aides being withdrawn, Tureta maintained that the speaker’s defection followed factionalisation in the state PDP.
“As you are aware, Mimiko left Labour party to PDP and celebrated it with his security aides and this harsh treatment was not meted to him.
“Let it also be on record that Tambuwal’s defection to the APC was sequel to the judgement of the Federal High Court, Sokoto, in the case of Ibrahim Magaji Gusau and two others versus Lawali Zayyana and 30 others, that there was a division within the PDP in the state,” he said.
Tureta therefore stressed that the court’s judgement justified the speaker’s defection to the APC and urged the IGP to, as a matter of urgency restore his security aides without further delay.
Earlier, the APC Youth Mobilisation Initiative (AYOMI), though its chairman, Alhaji Nura Harande Mahe, had criticised the action of the IGP, saying it was an insult on the morality and conscience of the Nigerian State and which goes to prove that the opposition is not entitled to security in the present democratic setting.
Nura further submitted that the IGP should be reminded that the primary aim of any leadership is the security of the life and property of its citizenry, which must not be toyed with for sentimental or political reasons.
On his part, Tambuwal local government area Caretaker Committee chairman, Alhaji Sambo Modo, corroborated the explanation that Tambuwal defected to the APC as a result of the division in the PDP in Sokoto State.
Sambo Modo discarded calls by some groups from Tambuwal/ Kebbe federal constituency for the immediate recall of the speaker and a by-election by INEC because Tambuwal was elected on the platform of the PDP and his defection encapsulates leaving the mandate he was voted to uphold.
Also, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) yesterday faulted the withdrawal of Tambuwal’s security detail.
The NBA in a statement signed by Mr. Austine Alegeh (SAN), president of the association said that the reliance of the police on the alleged violation of section 68(1) (g) of the constitution did not hold water.
He said the Nigerian Police Force is not a court of law and lacks the competence to determine whether or not a provision of the constitution has been violated by Tambuwal.
“That is a function reserved
for the Courts of law exclusively. The NBA outrightly condemns this action as it is a breach of the constitutional duty of the police to provide police escort and security to the Speaker of the House of Representatives,” Alegeh, adding that Tambuwal still remains the Speaker of the House of Representatives and he is entitled to the full paraphernalia of his office including all his police escorts and security details.
“We must state that the mere fact that Tambuwal defected from one party to the other whilst being the Speaker of the House of Representatives, does not automatically strip him of his position as Speaker of the House of Representatives and the attendant protection by the police” he emphasised.
Alegeh noted that”the Speaker of the House of Representatives is not elected by any one political party, but by a majority of members of the House of
Similarly, a civil society group, Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) and a former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikeja branch, Mr Monday Ubani, condemned the removal of the security details attached to the speaker.
While the position of the CSNAC was contained in a statement issued by its chairman, Mr Olarenwaju Suraj, Ubani spoke to LEADERSHIP by telephone on Friday.
Describing the move as political shenanigans, CSNAC faulted the government for selective application of the laws applicable to lawmakers who defect from their parties to new platforms, saying the election of speaker is the prerogative of members of the House.
“Withdrawing the security detail of Honourable Tambuwal, while Governor Mimiko, who recently decamped to PDP from Labour Party, still enjoys paraphernalia of office is nothing but fascism, abuse of power and oppressive,” his statement said.
Tambuwal: PDP Dangles Automatic Ticket To Win Governors’ Support
The plot to unseat the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tanbuwal, by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) thickens, as governors are being promised automatic tickets to return to the House of Representatives by members who support the move.
Tambuwal defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) during the week and quickly adjourned sitting until December 3, 2014.
In a swift reaction, the president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan met with the leadership of the PDP caucus in the House and the Adamu Muazu-led committee, where the issue was discussed extensively on how to return the seat to the party.
According to sources in the Presidency, the PDP has resolved to reconvene a sitting, with a view to unseat Tambuwal with a simple majority as soon as practicable.
“What Tambuwal did was unhonourable (sic). We know all this while that he has decamped to the APC before he openly made it so. There are several security reports that have indicted him of anti-party, but it was President Goodluck Jonathan who had been prevailing on the party not to suspend him.
“There were many public functions which he was supposed to attend but because of his political affiliation, Tambuwal had failed to attend them. This was the last straw, he has to go and he must go,” a top Presidency source said.
On how to remove him, he explained that in the eye of the law, Tambuwal has ceased to be the speaker, because he has left the PDP for another party.
“As far as I know, in the eyes of the Law, Tambuwal has ceased being the speaker by his defection. He should have resigned honourably but since he said no, the PDP controls majority and that is what is needed to remove him.”
Another source who corroborated his position explained the process to do it.
“We are aware of how those who are holding juicy committee (positions) could be persuaded against working with the party, but one thing is clear, it is the PDP that would give ticket to its members in the House and governors are the state leaders of the party. That should tell you where their interest and loyalty belong.”
Writing on a social media site, a presidential aide, Bolaji Adebiyi, also put forward a line of argument.
Writing on his wall in a post titled ‘Tambuwal’s seat is vacant’, Adebiyi quoted the portion of the Constitution that forbids defection to another party once there is no division.
“I have read with dismay reports on the debate about the status of the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives since Hon Aminu Tambuwal defected to the All Progressives Congress on Tuesday.
“I think it is absurd to propose that a member of a minority party could hold the position of the Speaker under a constitution governed by the principle of majority rule. For if that were possible a minority party member would have been the leader of the House.
“In any case, the entire debate is redundant since Hon Tambuwal’s seat has become vacant as a result of the operation of Section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
“Hon Tambuwal, a lawyer, ought to have known that that section of the constitution is self activating and that its proviso does not apply to him.
“The proviso talks about division within the decampee’s party. The question is: as at Tuesday when Hon. Tambuwal defected, was there a division within the Peoples Democratic Party? The answer is no.
“His seat has become vacant and his claim to the Office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives is no longer tenable.”
Meanwhile, the APC has warned the federal government to desist from compounding illegality by inducing members of the House of Representatives to sign a paper seeking to reconvene the House ahead of the December 3 date.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by its national publicity secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said, ‘’We have heard from the grapevine that the FG is inducing legislators with a view to reconvening the House, but this will amount to piling illegality upon illegality since only a resolution by all principal officers of the House can reconvene the house.
‘’We cannot put anything beyond a government that will unlawfully withdraw the security detail of the country’s number four citizen, who has not been removed as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, simply because he decamped from the ruling party to the opposition. For as long as he remains Speaker, Rt Hon Aminu Waziri Tambuwal is entitled to all the statutory perks of his office,’’ it said.
APC accused the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan of ruling by vindictiveness, rather than in accordance with the rule of law.
The party said despotism, arbitrariness and impunity were the watchwords of the Jonathan administration, hence it had desecrated most national institutions, including the judiciary and the legislature.
‘’The legislature is one of the last standing institutions after the onslaught of the ravaging Jonathan Administration, which has nothing but contempt for the concept of the separation of powers, the rule of law and perception of the country by the international community.
‘’For this government, it is power for the sake of power, not for the achievement of anything ennobling. That is why the police and SSS details of a man who remains the country’s number four can be removed without consideration to what the law says. That is why public funds will be used to induce lawmakers to sign for the reconvening of the House when it is clear that only the principal officers, and not even the Speaker alone, can reconvene the House before the adjourned date,’’ it said.
The APC said it would not be surprised if the Jonathan administration prevented the speaker from accessing his residential quarters, offices and even the planes in the official fleet for carrying out his official assignments.
‘’This President has said publicly that he does not give a damn. This Administration has shown clearly that it does not believe in the rule of law. Therefore it does not matter to the President or his Administration what the civilised world thinks of the country, as long as he can have his way, using all sorts of dirty tactics including unbridled corruption that is the hallmark of the Administration.
‘’We are therefore calling on all concerned citizens to condemn what is happening in our country today before one desperate power monger brings the country crashing down on all of us. This is because even if the Jonathan Administration is voted out of office next year, it will take a long time to reverse the harm that is being done to national institutions, which have become punitive tools in the hands of an increasingly despotic leader,’’ the party said.