By Kamarudeen Ogundele/The Nation
Justice Gabriel Kolawole declined the ex parte application by the National Chairman of African Liberation Party (ALP), Dr. Emmanuel Osita Okere, who asked the court to stop the House.
Emphasising the need for caution, the court said it must have been established that the impeachment proceedings had begun before it could hear the suit in order not to interfere with the functions of the House.
By the proviso of Section 143 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, the court held that no single arm of the National Assembly can unilaterally impeach the President, adding that it requires a joint resolution of the House and the Senate before the President could be removed.
By not joining the Senate as a party to the suit, the court said, the ex parte motion could not succeed.
“This may not be the proper occasion for this court to grant ex parte order against the 2nd and 3rd defendants, as the reliefs sought by the plaintiff largely benefits the President,” the court said.
Justice Kolawole accordingly refused the ex parte order and adjourned the matter indefinitely for the Chief Judge to re-assign the case.
Moving the ex parte application, the Applicant’s counsel, Alex Williams, had prayed the court to grant an interim order restraining the House, saying it was capable of distracting the President from discharging his duties.
The defendants are Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, the House of Representatives, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and President Goodluck Jonathan.
In his affidavit in support of the originating summons, the plaintiff stated that the move to impeach the President is heating up the polity, describing it as a disguise to cause political turmoil.
The plaintiff asked the court to determine whether
*Upon proper reading and interpretation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, whether any provision of the Constitution made 100 per cent implementation of the federal budget of Nigeria for each fiscal year as appropriated by National Assembly mandatory.
*Upon proper reading and interpretation of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended, whether the National Assembly are empowered to impeach the President from office for failure to implement the budget by 100 per cent for any given fiscal year?
* Whether the constitution prescribed any time frame or date in each fiscal year within which to declare the budget as non-implemented?
If the above questions are answered in his favour, he is seeking the following reliefs:
*A declaration that the move by the National Assembly to impeach the President from office for non-implementation of 100 per cent of the 2012 budget is premature, abuse of legislative powers, malevolent, unconditional, null and void.
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the leadership of the National Assembly from impeaching the President for non-implementation of 100 per cent of the budget as appropriated
*An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from harassing or further harassing the President with threats of impeachment or commencing any process of impeachment of the President for non-implementation of 100 per cent of the budget.
*An order prohibiting the President or the executive arm of government from hurriedly executing any part of the budget when/where the circumstances at hand does not permit prudent execution of such.