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Defection: Court rules in suit seeking removal of Saraki, Dogara, others

The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, Friday, struck out a suit seeking an order declaring vacant the seats of 54 National Assembly members who defected from the political parties under which they contested and won the 2015 general polls.

The lawmakers against whom the suit seeking their removal was sought are: Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and a former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio.
In its ruling, Justice Okon Abang held that the plaintiff of the suit, the Legal Defence and Assistance Project, lacked the locus standi (the legal right) to institute the suit.
He added that LEDAP’s status as a registered corporate body under the Company and Allied Matters Act was not sufficient to confer the right to institute the action on behalf of the public.
Abang also affirmed that the plaintiff, not being the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the political parties from which the legislators defected to the other ones, a member of any of the political parties, a member of the constituencies of the legislators or a registered voter in the lawmakers’ constituencies, lacked the legal capacity to institute the action.
He declared that despite the noble intention of the plaintiff, its lack of locus standi to file the action had robbed the court of the jurisdiction to consider the merit of its claims in the suit.
Besides, the court faulted the plaintiff’s failure to join the Peoples Democratic Party, the All Progressives Congress and the Action Democratic Congress which sponsored the elections of the decamping legislators, stating that this was fatal to the suit.

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