By Taiye Agbaje/Abuja
The Federal High Court, Abuja, will on 4 February hear a suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), asking for the declaration of the seat of Rep Yakubu Dogara vacant on account of his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Okon Abang fixed the date on the grounds that it was not convenient for the court to take the matter.
The PDP and its Bauchi State Chairman, Hamza Akuyam, are the plaintiffs in the case.
Dogara, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives; his successor Gbajabiamila; the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF); Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the APC are listed 1st to 5th defendants.
Dogara, who represents Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro Federal Constituency of Bauchi State, 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.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Jubrin Jubrin, and lawyer to the APC, Mustapha Balogun, at the resumed hearing, informed Justice Abang of their pending application shortly after the judge adjourned the matter.
The case could not come up on Dec. 7, 2020, and was fixed for March 5.
The PDP and other defendants however approached the court on Monday, arguing that, giving the nature of the matter, it was meant for timely and speedy disposal.
They, therefore, prayed the court for an abridgement of time.
Justice Abang said though it was not convenient for the court to hear the case, he however granted their prayer by fixing Feb. 4 as against March 5 for the hearing of the matter.
Abang ordered that hearing notice should be served on the 2nd (Speaker of House of Representatives) and 4th (INEC) defendants who were not represented in court.
Shortly after the proceeding, Jubrin told journalists that his clients were contending among others, that by virtue of Section 68(1)(g) of the constitution, Dogara by defecting from the party that sponsored him to the ninth National Assembly before the expiration of his tenure, ought to vacate the seat as he was no longer qualified to partake in the activities of the lower house.
Jubrin said the PDP members in the state were aggrieved by Dogara’s action.
“We are here to ask for justice in respect of what Hon. Dogara did for our party and the people of his constituency.
“So, we are asking the court to declare his seat vacant,” he said.
The APC in a counter-affidavit denied that the former speaker has defected to the party.
The Head of Legal Department of the APC, Dare Oketade said in the party’s counter-affidavit that he is not aware that Dogara has defected from the PDP.
Oketade said he has checked the membership register of the APC and that he did not find Dogara’s name in APC’s membership register.
“In fact the 5th defendant (the APC) has not received an application for membership from the 1st defendant (Dogara) or any other person acting under the instruction of the 1st defendant; neither the 5th defendant has issued any membership card to the 1st defendant.
“Recording the name of the 1st defendant as member of the 5th defendant in the membership register of the 5th defendant and the subsequent issuance of APC’s membership card to the 1st defendant confers 1st defendant the membership of the 5th defendant,” the APC said.
It described the suit by the PDP as speculative and instituted in bad faith, and prayed the court to dismiss all the claims of the plaintiffs in the interest of justice.