A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday granted an injunction stopping lawmakers of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] from reconvening the House of Representatives from recess.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Muhammed said the PDP legislators cannot take a decision to reconvene the House at least until Friday when the case would be heard.
Justice Muhammed ruled that all parties to the suit must maintain the status quo until Friday, November 7.
The ruling came after members of the APC in the House filed a motion on notice asking the court to stop the Federal Government, the PDP and their agents from reconvening the House until December 3.
Lawmakers of the APC, led by House Minority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, had gone to court after they suspected that PDP lawmakers were planning to reconvene the House in defiance of its leadership.
The Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, had after defecting to the APC on October 28 adjourned the House to December 3.
In his ruling, Justice Muhammed also asked the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, and the APC to serve the defendants with the motion on notice and ordered the defendants to come and show cause why all the reliefs being sought should not be granted.
The APC had three days ago alleged that President Goodluck Jonathan was plotting, alongside PDP lawmakers, to reconvene the House in violation of laid down procedures.
“We reject this meddling in the affairs of the Legislature especially given the resolution of President Jonathan and his close advisers yesterday at their meeting to ask the Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha to unlawfully reconvene the House before the adjourned date,” the party had said in a statement by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed.
“May we remind President Goodluck Jonathan that under the House Rules, only a resolution by all principal officers of the House and not even the Speaker of the House can reconvene the House before the adjourned date not to talk of the Deputy Speaker.”
The spokesperson of the House, Zakari Mohammed, had on Sunday also said the lawmaking body cannot cut short its recess without the express approval of its speaker, Mr. Tambuwal.
PREMIUM TIMES and other media had reported moves by loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to reconvene the House before its scheduled resumption date of December 3.
An early resumption is reportedly being proposed to execute the removal of Mr. Tambuwal as Speaker of the PDP-majority House.
After Mr. Tambuwal defected to the opposition, his security details were controversially withdrawn.
In his statement, Mr. Mohammed, clarified the legal procedure to reconvene the House before December 3.
Read his full statement below:
The House of Representatives adjourned sitting of its plenary on 28th of October to 3rd December 2014 to allow members of the House carry out pre Pre- Budget oversight activities in preparation for the 2015 Budget and also to meet the political calendar of all the political parties.
This adjournment was unanimously approved by all the Principal Officers of the House without dissent and the motion was moved by Mulikat- Adeola Akande, the Majority Leader .The Speaker, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, CFR, approved with the Gavel.
There has been intense media focus on this adjournment and media inquiries on the appropriate procedure for re- convening of the House of Representatives from its Recess, if it becomes necessary. The following clarification has become imperative.
The procedure for reconvening or Re-Assembly of the House is contained in the House Standing Orders made pursuant to Section 60 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which empowers the House to regulate its own procedure, including the procedure for Summoning and Recess of the House.
Order V , Rule 18(2) of the Standing Orders of the House of Representatives provides as follows;
“Whenever the House stands adjourned either to a date fixed by Resolution or the Rules of the House, and it is represented by the Leaders of the Political Parties in the House to the Speaker that the public interest requires that the House should meet on an earlier or a later date or time than that on which it stands adjourned, the Speaker MAY give notice accordingly, and the House shall meet on the date and at the time stated in the notice.”
This means that the Leaders of all the political parties in the House especially the Majority and Minority Leaders respectively MUST consent before the representation is made to the Speaker who has a discretion to agree or not.
This briefing is for the information and guidance of all Nigerians.