A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained both the Senate and the House of Representatives from taking over legislative duties of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Trial judge, Justice Taiwo Taiwo, in a short ruling, ordered parties in the matter to maintain status quo, pending the determination of a suit filed by the embattled speaker of Edo House of Assembly, Mr. Francis Okiye.
Justice Taiwo adjourned till August 22 to hear the case, and directed the National Assembly to within seven days; respond to the suit challenging plans by federal lawmakers to assume legislative functions of Edo State Assembly.
This is as President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, assured that he will work with the relevant constitutional bodies to resolve the crises in the Bauchi and Edo States Houses of Assembly.
The President also urged the state lawmakers not to give up their rights and the rights of those who elected them, charging them not to compromise on their individual integrity so as not to divide the House and the party.
Okiye had in the joint suit, among others, queried the legal competence of a directive by the National Assembly handed to Governor Godwin Obaseki, to issue a fresh proclamation to inaugurate Edo State House of Assembly.
The National Assembly had threatened to take over legislative duties and powers of the state House of Assembly, should the governor fail to make the fresh proclamation within three weeks.
Determined to abort the plan, Okiye approached the court.
Though he applied for an interim injunction against the National Assembly, Justice Taiwo said he was minded to hear the substantive matter on the adjourned date.
Other defendants in the matter are Clerk of the National Assembly, Mr. Mohammed Sani-Omolori and the National Assembly.
President Muhammadu Buhari, in assuring that he will work with the relevant constitutional bodies to resolve the crises in the Bauchi and Edo States Houses of Assembly also urged the state lawmakers not to give up their rights and the rights of those who elected them, charging them not to compromise on their individual integrity so as not to divide the House and the party.
This came on a day the Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, restrained the National Assembly from taking over legislative duties of Edo State House of Assembly, even as the 17 aggrieved All Progressives Congress, APC, members of Bauchi State House of Assembly who were inaugurated last Friday, following a reconciliation with their colleagues, made u-turn yesterday, renouncing their inauguration after meeting with the President at State House, Abuja.
Receiving the lawmakers as well as other stakeholders from the state, President Buhari told them that he was aware of the crisis in the state.
The President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said: “I am aware of the problem in Edo and Bauchi States and I try to appreciate my position as the President, the political situation vis-a-vis the constitution of our country, the role of the Commissioners of Police and the party. I always like to be on the side of the constitution.”
He promised to liaise with the Minister of Justice when sworn in, and the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the rights of the constituencies and individuals were not abused in any form.
Buhari advised them to stay firm, bearing in mind their responsibilities to their constituencies and always keep the party in the state and at the centre informed.
The party members, led by the chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had briefed the President on events that led to the crisis in the House.
Meanwhile, the 17 aggrieved APC members of Bauchi State House of Assembly, who were sworn into office last Friday following reconciliation with their colleagues, have made u-turn, renouncing their inauguration after meeting with President Buhari.
The lawmakers were led to the meeting with the President by Kawuwa Shehu Damina, who had earlier laid claim to the speakership of the State Assembly until he and his aggrieved colleagues accepted Abubakar Suleiman who was elected by 11 members at a previous inauguration of the House as speaker.
The 31 member Bauchi Assembly comprises 22 APC members; eight Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, members and one New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, member.
Speaking with State House correspondents after meeting with the President, the lawmakers said they no longer abide by the reconciliation they reached with their colleagues and the state governor five days earlier.
Spokesman of the lawmakers, Damina, said they now demand a fresh proclamation for another inauguration of the State Assembly, so that a new speaker could be elected.
Damina said: “The purpose of our coming to see Mr. President is at the instance of our party. So we came to brief him on what is happening in Bauchi State House of Assembly since the purported inauguration which produced two leaderships.”
Asked what the true situation was, having been inaugurated earlier, he said “the situation is as it is now because in arithmetic, there is nothing that will make 11 to be greater than 20; and later that 11 grew to 13. So that is the position.”
On how they intend to resolve this issue, he said: “Let me clearly state that this is not about any individual. All we are saying is that the right thing based on constitutional provisions be done, with a proclamation issued, specifying date, time and venue. Once that is done, election should be conducted and whoever emerges as leader will be accepted.”