|Hon Friday Sani Makama|
A Kogi High Court sitting in Lokoja on Thursday set aside the suspension of Mr Friday Sani (PDP-Igalamela-Odolu) by the state House of Assembly.
Justice Henry Olusuyi in his judgment delivered in Lokoja, described the suspension of the lawmaker as an act of legislative insolence which would not be allowed by any competent court of jurisdiction.
The court maintained that the March 28 suspension of the lawmaker following which he approached the court to seek redress was “invalid, illegal and unconstitutional”.
Olusiyi held that the claimant had the right to sue the first defendant (Kogi House of Assembly) if he felt the legislature unjustly suspended him.
He noted that a member could however be suspended when found wanting under the provisions of the House Rules 37 to 39, which according to him, is not related to the case in view.
The judge therefore ordered that the rights and privileges as well as entitlements of the claimant as a member of the House be given to him.
Olusiyi however held that the House or the party had the preserve to appoint principal officers of the Assembly, especially that of the minority leader.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the lawmaker had dragged the Assembly to court for allegedly defying the House rules on election of Minority Leader and his subsequent suspension.
The suit had the House of Assembly; its Speaker, Alhaji Umar Imam; Minority Leader, Godwin Osiyi; Gov. Yahaya Bello; the state Attorney-General; Accountant General and Kogi State Government as defendants.
Speaking shortly after the ruling, counsel to the claimant, Mr Promise Ogbadu, described the judgment as “symbolic and profound. We still have other issues to pick which we are going to file in the court of appeal.
“It is very interesting that the court did not mince words in insisting that the act of the Assembly was not only contemptuous, it was also an act of legislative impunity and legislative irresponsibility.
“To that extent, we hope and pray that the judgment will give a profound direction to both the Kogi House of Assembly and other legislatures in the country on the ambit of their power in relation to their members’’.
Counsel to the defendants, Mr Gabriel Salifu of the state Ministry of Justice described the judgment as a sound one, saying that it settled the blanket argument by the claimant that the House had no right to suspend members.
“Unlike the blanket argument that the House has no power to suspend its members, the judgment has clearly shown that the House has the power to issue out suspension within Rules 37-39 of its standing rule,” he said.