The Speaker, House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the Peoples Democratic Party and six others from removing him from office.
This came on the heels of his historic defection from the ruling PDP to the All Progressives Congress during the week.
The Speaker, who dressed in white flowing gown popularly called agbada and a white cap to match, was accompanied to the court premises by his supporters. He left the court premises shortly after completing the process with his lawyers.
The six other respondents in the suit are the PDP National Chairman, Adamu Muazu; the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker of the House, the Inspector-General of Police, the Independent National Electoral Commission and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
Tambuwal prayed the court to hold that he still remains a member of the House of Representatives and its Speaker.
He further explained that he was elected the House’ Speaker on June 6, 2011 by members of the House, not because he was a member of the PDP, but by virtue of his being a member of the House.
He further explained that he had been a member of the New PDP faction of the party when it became factionalised late last year. He added that his faction of the PDP merged with the APC on November 26, 2013 and that by virtue of the merger he became a member of the APC.
According to the Speaker, the PDP still remains factionalised in his home state of Sokoto. This, he said, informed his decision to defect.
He also asked the court to grant an order of injunction restraining the defendants and their agents from taking any step to remove him from office as Speaker and member of the House or in any manner.
He said, “I know as a fact that all efforts to harmonise the factions of the PDP in my home state in Sokoto has failed as there are still factions in the state. I informed the members of the 3rd defendant (House of Reps) while announcing my decision to join the New PDP faction, who merged with the 2nd plaintiff (APC) that my membership of the 2nd plaintiff was based on the circumstances in my home state.”
Tambuwal further stated that since he announced his defection, the PDP and its Chairman have consistently threatened to declare his seat vacant and withdraw all rights and benefits including security details attached to him.
The Speaker is praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents from taking any step or further steps to abrogate or diminish or take away or interfere with or infringe his rights and privileges as Speaker and a member of the House before the expiration of his term of office on June 5, 2015.
He is also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining INEC from accepting any nomination of candidates or otherwise organising or conducting a bye-election for the purpose of replacing him or taking over his seat as Speaker and member of the House before the expiration of his current tenure of office on June 5, 2015.
Tambuwal equally prayed the court to grant an order of mandatory injunction compelling the IGP and AGF to restore his security details and all other rights, benefits and opportunities appurtenant to members of and office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Speaker also seeks a declaration that the decisions or threatened decisions of all the defendants, except INEC, purporting or planning and or attempting to declare the seat of the 1st plaintiff in the 3rd defendant vacant as a member and Speaker thereof, is unlawful, unconstitutional and ultra vires the powers of the defendants
He is also seeking for a declaration that he remains a member and the Speaker of the 3rd defendant until the expiration of his current term of office on June 5, 2015 notwithstanding his membership of APC unless he is removed in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Meanwhile, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, and the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, Mr. Razak Atunwa, have decried the withdrawal of the security details attached to Tambuwal by the Federal Government.
They described the withdrawal as unconstitutional and an executive rascality.
El-Rufai said it was a deliberate plot by the Federal Government to kill Tambuwal.
The former minister alleged that Tambuwal was one of the targets of snipers being purportedly trained by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in an open letter to Jonathan last year, alleged that the President was training snipers for the purpose of killing some prominent Nigerians.
Addressing journalists on Friday shortly after he picked his expression of interest and nomination forms as the All Progressives Congress governorship aspirant in Kaduna State, El-Rufai insisted that Tambuwal was one of the targets of the President’s killer-squad, saying, “That was why the Inspector-General of Police, on the order of Jonathan, withdrew his security aides.”
Atunwa told journalists in Ilorin that in as much as Tambuwal remained the Speaker, it was wrong to strip him of the security perequisites of his office. A group, the Ndigbo Unity Forum, also condemned the withdrawal, saying that the action reminded Nigerians the dark days of the military regime.
The Forum’s President, Mr. Augustine Chukwudum, told Saturday PUNCH on Friday that the incident happened when Nigerians had forgotten the dictatorship of the military government.
The APC on Friday also warned the Federal Government against compounding illegality by inducing members of the House of Representatives to sign a paper seeking to reconvene the House ahead of the December 3rd adjourned date.
The party said in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja that it heard from the grapevine that the Federal Government was inducing lawmakers with a view to reconvening the House.
This, the party said, would amount to piling illegality upon illegality since only a resolution by all principal officers of the House could reconvene the House.
For defecting to the APC, the PDP has vowed to remove Tambuwal, at all cost via legal means.
Speaking in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Thursday, the National Secretary of the party, Prof. Wale Oladipo, described Tambuwal as “a shameless political nomad and charlatan,” who is out to create problems for the country and President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said, “The PDP will use all legal means to get our right to produce the Speaker. We will not foreclose any possibility in ensuring that we get the speakership, which rightly belongs to us.
“Tambuwal should not only vacate the Speaker’s position, he must vacate the Federal House of Representatives because the people of his constituency voted for the PDP and not for him. It was the logo of the party that the people voted for and not Tambuwal. He should go for a bye-election. If he is sure of himself, he should resign and contest again. If he wins, good luck.
“It is morally reprehensible for him to defect from the PDP and still hold on to the position of the Speaker because he was elected as Speaker as a result of the fact that his party at the time, the PDP, was in the majority.
“Tambuwal has embarked on a perilous journey that will lead to his political oblivion. He is a problem to the country. He defied party’s directive on the speakership and teamed up with the All Progressives Party to take away a position that belongs to the Yoruba.”
Commenting on the possibility of removing the Speaker through an impeachment process, Oladipo, who described impeachment as a parliamentary affair, however, maintained that the PDP legislators in the House “know what is good for the country and as patriotic Nigerians, they’ll do the needful. We will react within the confines of the laws of the land.”
Tambuwal had during plenary on Tuesday told his colleagues that he heeded the calls of members of his constituency to dump the PDP.
The Speaker said, “Based on the provision of the 1999 Constitution, and having regard to the development of the PDP in my own state, Sokoto, I hereby announce my membership of the APC.”
The defection ended months of speculation over his political future.
A Board of Trustees member of the PDP, Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, said the House should reconvene immediately even as he maintained that the Speaker should be recalled forthwith.
He said, “The House should convene immediately. They (House) have to call the Deputy Speaker to reconvene immediately. This period when the Speaker adjourned the parliament should be used to consider the budget.
“This is a period leading to an election year. This will affect budget presentations by various agencies such as the Independent National Electoral Commission and security organs and others.”
Describing Tambuwal’s action as unpatriotic, Oyedokun, who spoke in a telephone interview, said the defection was executed to cripple the Jonathan-led administration and the parliament.
“It is morally wrong for Tambuwal to still hold on to the position of the Speaker. If you want to rule a country, you don’t need to dismantle the country. The PDP will certainly not fold its hands. The PDP will react. Nigerians too should react; how can someone close the parliament down? We (PDP) will look at all possible options. Whatever the party chooses would be constitutional.”
Another member of the BoT, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said Tambuwal had embarked on a political gamble which he would regret.
Babatope, who spoke on the telephone on Thursday, stressed that the Speaker had “taken a decision that will be disastrous to his political life.
“This is a mark of disorder. The honourable thing for him to do is to resign, otherwise, history will not judge him well.
“The PDP will study the situation very well and get loyal party members to queue behind the party. The PDP will have the last laugh. The position should be given back to the choice of the PDP, Mulika Akande. The South-West has been cheated.”
Saturday PUNCH learnt that the PDP-led Federal Government which withdrew the speaker’s security details on Thursday, is determined to elevate loyal party members in the house.
Members of the opposition APC are however not prepared to take things lying low. Counter moves are also under the way as APC dared the President, warning that there would be grave consequences if the PDP attempted to induce lawmakers to remove Tambuwal as being planned.