Party Defection: Saraki, Dino, others beg court for more time to prepare case

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday extended the time it gave the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and 54 other members of the National Assembly to file and exchange processes in a suit seeking to dismiss them from their offices.

The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP) had dragged Saraki and the others to court following their defection from various political parties.

LEDAP had asked the court to determine whether the respondents have the legal authority to remain in power, after decamping from the party that sponsored their election into office.

Following the suspension of the judgement which was scheduled to be delivered on April 11, Justice Okon Abang fixed April 12 in the interest of fair hearing.

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At the resumed hearing, Saraki 16 other Senators represented by Mr Efut Okoi, brought a motion to the court praying for an extension of time.

Also, Safiya Mohammed filed a motion for extension of time on behalf of 38 members of the House of Representatives.

Counsel to the prosecution, Jibrin Okutepa (SAN) frowned at the applications. He also frowned at the fact that another counsel had announced appearance for some of the defendants who were initially represented by Mahmud Magaji (SAN).

“I have just been served with this strange set of documents from another law firm filing a memorandum of conditional appearance for the 19th to 55th and 58th defendants (members of the National Assembly) led by professor Amupitan.

“I also got a counter affidavit of the same 19th to 55th and 58th defendants as well as a motion for extension of time to file their memorandum of appearance and counter-affidavits.

“This matter was adjourned at the instance of Magaji for us to take his processes.

“My submission is that the defendants are taking the court’s magnanimity for a ride and have decided to cause confusion so that the matter would not take off.

“A defendant shouldn’t be allowed to hold the court to ransom,” Okutepa said.

However, he later agreed that the defendants should be given an extension of time.

Justice Abang ruled that the plaintiff (LEDAP) was at liberty to reply to all the processes filed by the defendants on or before April 15 and ordered the defendants to file their reply by April 17.

He said that any party that fails to abide by the court’s directive would have itself to blame.

The judge adjourned the matter until April 18.

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