A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Friday, ordered former Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, to vacate his seat as member representing Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency in Bauchi State.
Delivering judgment, Justice Donatus Okorowo, declared that having defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dogara was no longer qualified to occupy the seat by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution. Justice Okorowo aligned with the argument of the PDP that by defecting from the party that sponsored him to the ninth National Assembly, before the expiration of his tenure, Dogara ought to vacate the seat as he was no longer qualified to partake in the activities of the lower house.
The judge, who held that the action of the lawmaker was prohibited by law, agreed that the aim of Section 68(1)(g) was to check political prostitution among legislators.
“The judgment is, therefore, given in favour of the plaintiffs I hereby grant the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs,” he declared.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the PDP and one of its members in Bauchi State had, in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1060/20, sued Dogara, the speaker of the House of Representatives. Other defendants were the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC, as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
In a related development, Okorowo had, earlier in a judgment, dismissed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/883/30 and filed by Incorporated Trustees of United Global Resources for Peace Organisation against Dogara and five others on the grounds that the group lacked a locus standi to institute the matter.
On April 11, NAN reported that the judgments, in the two separate suits filed against Dogara, were stalled due to the easter vacation by the FHC which began on April 8 to end on April 25. But, a competent source at the court informed NAN that the judgments might be delivered if the Chief Judge, Justice John Tsoho, gave a fiat to the effect.
The PDP and the group had asked the court to remove the former speaker of the lower house as member representing Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, over his defection to APC.Dogara had, on July 24, 2020, defected from the PDP to the APC when he submitted a resignation letter to the chairman of the Bogoro ‘C’ Ward in the state.
The plaintiff, through their counsel, Jubrin Jubrin, said by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution, by defecting from the party that sponsored him to the ninth National Assembly before the expiration of his tenure, Dogara should vacate the seat as he was no longer qualified to partake in the activities of the lower house.
NAN reports that in similar circumstances, Justice Inyang Ekwo, a sister judge, had, on March 8, sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, alongside other lawmakers who dumped the PDP for APC, describing their action as unlawful.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, another judge in the Abuja division, had also, on March 21,, ordered the 20 lawmakers from Cross River to vacate their seats following their defection from the PDP to APC.
The lawmakers comprised two House of Representatives members and 18 state House of Assembly members.