Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday refused to assume jurisdiction over a suit seeking to stop the House of Representatives from holding a plenary towards the execution of impeachment moves against President Goodluck Jonathan.
The suit also sought an order restraining Aminu Tambuwal from carrying on as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
But Buba refused to entertain the suit on the grounds that it fell short of the provisions of Order 2 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court Rules on jurisdiction.
Two lawyers namely, Anthony Nwajiugo and Okechukwu Ebirim, filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1863/14.
In it, they sought a declaration that the House of Representatives, as presently constituted with Tambuwal as the Speaker, was subversive of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
They sought a declaration “that the House of Representatives as presently constituted cannot embark on any legislative business, including the adjournment of plenary sessions on the impeachment of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, being improperly constituted; and
“A declaration that Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal constituency of Sokoto State cannot remain and by his action, lost the competence to remain the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of Nigeria.”
But on Monday when the second plaintiff, Ebirim, appeared before Buba, the judge asked why the plaintiffs did not go to Abuja to file the suit, since the defendants carry out their statutory duties in Abuja.
“Give me reasons why I should sit in Lagos and say the House of Representatives should not sit in Abuja. You have not served them in Abuja; you have served them in Lagos. Can we constitute our own jurisdiction?
“The two plaintiffs are lawyers, why are they afraid to go to Abuja? Does the National of Assembly carry out its business in Lagos?
“Learned counsel should address this court on why the court should entertain this suit in Lagos, in view of Order 2 Rule 2 of this court.”
But Ebirim submitted that being an issue that borders on the Constitution, and given the fact that the National Assembly had a liaison office in Lagos, the plaintiffs had the right to ventilate their grievances before the Federal High Court, irrespective of division.
He said, “We submit that a matter that borders on the constitution is national in nature and can be heard in a Federal High Court, irrespective of division.”
But Buba dismissed the argument and held, “This case is wrongly constituted in Lagos. The case shall be transferred to Abuja. The plaintiffs shall approach the Chief Judge of this court for a date for hearing.”
In an affidavit filed in support of the suit and deposed to by the first applicant, Nwajiugo, the deponent averred that by virtue of his citizenship and training as a lawyer, he was aware that Section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution provided that a member of Senate or House of Representatives shall vacate his seat upon defection from the party that sponsored him or her before the expiration of his or her tenure.
He added that the suit was filed basically to challenge the propriety of Tambuwal presiding over the House business, especially the plans to impeach Jonathan.