3rd November, 2014
Felix Nnamdi/Abuja, Eromosele Ebhomele & Jamiu Yisa
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal and his new party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday filed an ex-parte motion before a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking an order of interim injunction restraining the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from taking any step to remove him from office as Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The suit which was filed early Monday morning also seeks an order of interim injunction against the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, from accepting any nomination of candidates or conducting a ‘bye election for the purpose of replacing him or taking over his seat as the Speaker of the House of Representatives pending the hearing and determination of the suit he filed last Friday.
The Speaker further prayed for an order of mandatory injunction directing the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to restore his security details and all other rights and privileges as well as stop the PDP from taking any step to interfere with his duties as the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In the affidavit attached to the motion ex-parte, Tambuwal averred that the defendants planned his removal as the Speaker of the House of Representatives despite the suit he filed last Friday.
Specifically, he averred that PDP and its chairman, Adamu Muazu, had threatened to ensure that his seat as Speaker and member of the House of Representatives is declared vacant in order to get INEC conduct a ‘bye election.
Further more, Tambuwal averred that he has been receiving threats from his former party to remove him from office as Speaker and member of the House of Representatives because of his defection to the opposition All Progresives Congress.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) has sent a strongly worded letter to the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, asking him to resign for unlawfully withdrawing the security details attached to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal.
Abba ordered the withdrawal of the security aides last Thursday after Tambuwal defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, on Tuesday.
Abba’s action has attracted outrage and severe criticisms across the country, with many questioning the legality of such action.
In his letter to Abba, Falana pointedly accused the police chief of being partisan, saying “Since you were appointed the Acting Inspector-General of Police by the President of the Republic on July 31, 2014 the Nigeria Police Force has been involved in partisan politics to the detriment of law and order in the country. Permit me to draw your attention to three glaring cases of political bias recently displayed by the Police under your leadership.
“Firstly, the Osun State governorship election which took place on August 9, 2014 was almost marred by the Police and other security forces which arrested and detained over 700 leaders of the All Progressive Congress (APC). Indeed, some electoral officers who were assumed to be members of the APC were also railroaded to police custody. But for the personal intervention of Professor Attahiru Jega, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the said electoral officers would not have been released. Thus, the election would have been disrupted by the police and other security forces whose duty it was to maintain law and order during the democratic exercise. However, the detained APC leaders who were released after the election have not been charged to court for breaching the provisions of the Electoral Act or any other law whatsoever.
“Secondly, Mr. Joseph Mbu, the controversial Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 7 of the Nigeria Poilice Force announced a ban any rally demanding for #bringbackourgirls within the federal capital territory. The ban was designed to assuage the feelings of some officials of the Federal Government who are embarrassed by being reminded of their constitutional duty of rescuing the over 200 Chibok girls who were abducted 6 months ago by the nihilist boko haram sect. In a judgment delivered last week, the Federal Capital Territory High Court declared the ban illegal, null and void on the ground that it constituted an infringement of the fundamental rights of the patriotic campaigners to freedom of assembly and expression guaranteed by the Constitution. In spite of the judicial indictment you have not deemed it fit to call Mr. Mbu to order for the reckless abuse of police powers.”
Citing the latest instance of partisanship, Falana said: “You caused the security details of Honourable Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives to be withdrawn last week on the ground that he had decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC. As if that was enough, you decided to usurp the judicial powers of the federation which are exclusively vested in the courts by section 6 of the Constitution when you claimed that the Speaker had lost his office and seat as a federal legislator having contravened section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution. By your illegal pronouncement you disregarded section section 50 (2) (c) thereof which stipulates that the Speaker of the House of Representatives can only be removed by a resolution passed by votes on not less that two thirds majority of the members of the House.”
Falana said Abba’s “actions and utterances in the circumstance have exposed the Police to unwarranted ridicule as Nigerians are not unaware of the fact that when the Ondo State legislators elected on the platform of the Labour Party (LP) decamped to the PDP last month your office did not declare their seats vacant. In particular, you did not withdraw the security details of Honourable Jumoke Akindele, the Speaker who led her colleagues to dump the LP for the PDP. In the same vein, Honourable Ahmadu Fintiri, the Speaker of the Adamawa State House of Assembly and his colleagues who decamped from the PDP to the APC and have since returned to PDP. You did not have cause to declare their seats vacant. Neither have you withdrawn the security details of Honourable Fintiri.
“Thus, by subjecting Honourable Aminu Tambuwal to selective persecution on ground that he decamped from the ruling party you violated his fundamental right to freedom from discrimination. As you are no doubt aware, it is a breach of section 42 (1) of the Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to subject any citizen of Nigeria of a political opinion to disabilities, deprivation and restrictions to which other citizens who hold alternative views or opinions are not made subject. Since the security details of other Speakers who decamped from the APC and LP to the PDP have not been withdrawn those of Honourable Tambuwal were illegally withdrawn. They ought to be restored without any further delay.
Falana also said since “law and order in the country cannot be maintained by a compromised Police institution you may want to resign your appointment if you are not prepared to discharge your onerous constitutional responsibilities without fear or favour, affection or ill-will.”
Tambuwal has said that he is the Speaker and would not be intimidated, adding that he would to continue working with progressive-minded people for the good of the country.
Tambuwal who spoke for the first time since he was stripped of security over his defection from PDP to APC, described the withdrawal of his police aides by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Suleiman Abba, as an abuse of power.
Speaking at a ‘Victory Colloquium’ organised for the Osun State Governor, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola by an online medium ‘The Gazelle News,’ with the theme: “Osun Election: A Pathway for Nigeria’s Democratic Growth,” Tambuwal said although the matter was already in court, he had left what he described as a public drama to the people of Nigeria to decide whether the IGP was fair in his pronouncement.
According to him, “since the beginning of the public drama in Abuja, I have not made any public appearance or comments on it. Now that I am here, I will take the advantage of the ceremony to thank Nigerians, lovers of democracy, our true friends, members of human rights society and others for the support extended to me on the matter.
“Since the matter is in court, I will not say much, but I will draw public attention to what is public knowledge. Before my defection to the APC, the governor of Ondo State defected alongside with the speaker of the state legislature. I believe there was no pronouncement from the IGP to the effect that the speaker lost his seat.”
The Speaker, while commending Aregbesola on his victory in the August 9 governorship election, recalled that the defeated PDP aided by Federal Government security agencies did all humanly possible to stop the people of Osun from exercising free and fair franchise.
“Aregbesola and his party, APC, won the election because of the resolution of the people and their commitment to stand for justice.
“I commend the people of Osun for resisting those principalities; for resisting members of the Armed Forces that ordinarily should have been at Sambisa Forest at that time, but were misdirected and misapplied on the peaceful people of Osun State and they wasted our bullets; but I doff my cap for the people of Osun State.”
In his address, National Legal Adviser of APC, Dr. Muiz Adeyemi Banire, who was the guest speaker, with the former factional chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Kawu Baraje and Ajibola Bashiru as moderators, urged political parties not to allow religious sentiment to determine their choice of candidates in the coming general elections.
According to him, allowing religious sentiments to overshadow popularity, performance and credibility would spell doom for the country.
He stated that Governor Aregbesola and the APC won the August 9 governorship election because of the popularity of the party’s standard bearer.
In his closing remarks, Aregbesola attributed his victory at the last poll to the determination of Osun people to resist tyranny and oppression.
“Our victory, which we are celebrating today, did not come cheap in Osun; we fought and fought but through the resilience and commitment of the people of Osun, we won. I must tell you that nothing was left undone to ensure that PDP won by all means,” the governor said.