– AGF writes Saraki over Akwa-Ibom Senatorial tussle
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Ikechukwu Ezechukwu has said for any legislator removed by a court judgement to remain in the Senate wass an illegal act that amounts to disobedience of court orders. Ikechukwu said this yesterday while reacting to the recent judgements of the Supreme Court on the Taraba senatorial seat, Benue State House of Representative seat and that of the Federal High Court, Uyo, regarding the representation of Akwa-Ibom North-East senatorial district at the Senate. He said “in reality, if a Supreme Court has declared a verdict on a matter, there is no reversal, and the continuous stay of the other senator who was removed from the Senate by the Federal High Court, Uyo is illegal. The Senate President’s refusal to swear in the person the judgment was passed in his favour amount to disobedience to court order. “In a pre-election judgement, Supreme Court declares that until the judgement is set aside by a superior court of records, that judgement remains valid and binding. This justifies the principle of rule of law and separation of powers, as Senate cannot constitute itself into appellate court,” he said. Accordingly, an Abuja-based human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Chief Nkereuwem Akpan berated the Senate leadership on refusal to swear-in Bassey Etim over a flimsy excuse of awaiting legal advice from Legal Department of the National Assembly, when there is court judgement.
“The principal officers of both houses of the NASS owe themselves a duty of ensuring that they do not collude with sitting members of parliament to subvert the cause of justice otherwise they would be personally liable for such gross violation of their oath of office and of allegiance to the 1999 Constitution,” Akpan said. He said Senator Abubakar Danladi of Taraba State and Benue State representative, Herman Hembe’s ouster by Supreme Court was final and with regards to the matter decided by the Uyo division of the Federal High Court. “It is against the spirit and letter of the 1999 Constitution for anyone, no matter how highly placed, to ignore and or refuse to obey a valid order of court,” he said.
He added that in a preelection matter, appeal does not operate as a stay, particularly as the court who delivered the judgement had since dismissed the application for stay of execution filed by the ousted senator. Bassey Akpan, the embattled senator in several attempts to retain seat in the Senate, filed an originating summon at a Federal High Court, Abuja, seeking injunction to restrain Senate President Bukola Saraki from swearing in Etim, but the court declined. Meanwhile, a letter written and assigned by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to the Senate leadership had called on Saraki to honour the judgement of the Federal High Court, Uyo, regarding the representation of Akwa-Ibom North-East senatorial district at the Senate. The letter with reference number, MJ/LIT/ABJ/ MOC/112/17, read in part: “The Senate of NASS is therefore required to comply with the judgment in suit no FHC/UY/CS/1087/2015 between Hon. Bassey Etim and Peoples Democratic Party & two others by swearing in Hon. Bassey Etim as the senator representing Akwa-Ibom North-East senatorial district in the Senate of the NASS.” Nigerian Pilot recalls that the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, had on February 27 ordered the senator representing Akwa Ibom NorthEast in the National Assembly, Bassey Akpan, to vacate his seat immediately.