4th June, 2011
The tussle for the Speakership of the soon to be inaugurated 7th National Assembly has taken a different turn as two leading contenders for the Speakership and Deputy Speaker positions in the House,
Hon Aminu Tambuwal and Hon Emeka Ihedioha haveÂ draggedÂ the Federal Government and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Inspector-General of Police before a Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to protect them from intimidation and arrest by the two Federal Government agencies.
In a fundamental human rights enforcement application that is scheduled to be heard on Monday, the duo are asking the court to restrain the EFCC, the IG and their agents from harassing, intimidating and arresting them for the purpose of preventing them from being present for election or accepting nomination on Monday when President Goodluck Jonathan is expected to inaugurate the incoming National Assembly.
Tambuwal and Ihedioha are also asking the court to take judicial notice of the fact that since declaring their intention to vie for the principal offices of the House, the defendants have been harassing and intimidating them with a view to forcing them to withdraw from the contest on the grounds of geo-political considerations.
According to them, their constitutional rights to personal liberty are in imminent danger of being violated by the defendants since the said election is coming up on Monday.
They are further asking the court to direct the defendants and their agents to stay all actions in respect of the matter and maintain the status quo, pending the determination of the originating motion on notice.
They have also joined the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission as co-defendants to the suit.
The Legislators had through their, Mr. Kalu Onuoha, filed the application on May 31 just as the application was backed by a 23-paragraph affidavit deposed to by Hon. Tambuwal.
He alleged that since he and Hon. Ihedioha showed interest in seeking nomination for the position of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively, that they had been under intense pressure from different quarters to abandon their quest.
He added that their colleagues had assured them that they would nominate them for the posts, saying that unless they are physically present at the House on Monday, it would be difficult to accept nominations as required by the Standing Orders of the House.
Tambuwal further claimed that the defendants are working towards arresting him and Ihedioha to prevent them from being able to accept their nominations for the offices of the Speaker and that of the Deputy Speaker of the House.
He also alleged that the intention of the EFCC to invite the outgoing Speaker of the House, Dimeji Bankole, for questioning over money alleged to have been burrowed by the House from financial institutions was to coax him to implicate them in the loan controversy.
According to him, the development will now pave way for the EFCC to arrest and detain them until after the election.
He also alleged that the plans by the defendants to implicate them in the loan controversy had been the subject of newspaper reports which he claimed were not denied or refuted by the defendants.
ByÂ Nnamdi Felix / Abuja