BY JOHN AMEH AND ADE ADESOMOJU
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, has accused his Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke; the Peoples Democratic Party and its National Chairman, Adamu Mu’azu, of being behind the plot to remove him from office.
Tambuwal, who defected from the PDP to the All Progressives Congress last week, made the allegation in an affidavit supporting an ex parte application he filed along with the APC at the Federal High Court, Abuja on Monday.
Presiding Justice Ahmed Mohammed heard the application and directed all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo till Friday.
In the affidavit which was deposed to by one of his lawyers, Ejura Ochimana, Tambuwal told the court that the PDP, Mu’azu, Adoke and Ihedioha, who are among the defendants in the suit, were working secretly to reconvene the House before December 3 in order to remove him as speaker.
He also stated that the withdrawal of his security details on October 30 by the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, was upon the prompting of the defendants.
Tambuwal stated that despite the pendency of a suit he filed on Friday, the defendants were still bent on carrying through their threat to also remove him as a member of the House.
The Speaker and the APC asked the court to restrain the House from reconvening earlier than December 3, the day the Speaker had adjourned sitting.
In his ruling, Justice Mohammed said the order for the maintenance of the status quo was necessary so as to protect the subject matter (recovening the House) in the suit.
He therefore asked the parties in the matter to appear before him on Friday and directed that the defendants be served with the ex parte motion and copies of the enrolled order which he made on Monday.
Mohammed said the defendants needed to appear in court on Friday to show cause why the prayers sought by Tambuwal and the APC should not be granted.
The other defendants in the suit are the House, the IG and the Independent National Electoral Commission.
A counsel for the Speaker and the APC, Mr. Sunday Ameh (SAN), had while moving the application, urged the court to protect the subject matter of the suit which they filed last Friday challenging the alleged plan by the PDP to remove Tambuwal as speaker and declare his seat as a member of the House vacant.
The lawyer told the court that granting the orders would help preserve the position of Tambuwal as speaker, his membership of the House and his security which are all under threat.
He also told the court that the PDP had summoned Ihedioha and its other members in the House for the purpose of reconvening the House and removing Tambuwal as speaker.
The lawyer added that it was unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void for the PDP to make any move that could lead to the resumption of the House.
The court, after ordering that the House should not be reconvened, adjourned till Friday when the defendants are expected to show cause why all the prayers sought by Tambuwal and the APC should not be granted.
The APC Caucus, through four of its members had also on Monday filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order restraining the principal officers of the House from re-convening without recourse to the speaker.
The four members are Gbajabiamila, Samson Osagie, Suleiman Kawu and Garba Datti.
Listed as defendants are Ihedioha; the Majority Leader, Mulikat Akande; the Deputy Majority leader, Leo Ogor; Ishaka Bawa; Muktar Mohammed, the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Clerk of the House.
Other defendants are the PDP, the IG and the AGF.
In the suit filed on their behalf by Mahmud Magaji (SAN), the plaintiffs asked the court to, among other prayers, declare that the House could not be reconvened without the consent of the speaker.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.
The caucus later addressed a news conference where it said on Monday that neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor the PDP had the powers to reconvene the House or accomplish any plans to remove Tambuwal.
It noted that the reported bid by the Presidency and the PDP to interfere in the affairs of the House were “futile efforts.”
It added that not even Ihedioha or the signatures of 120 or 150 lawmakers “or any number” could reconvene the House without the approval of Tambuwal.
The Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, led the caucus members to the news conference shortly after it filed the suit against the Presidency, Jonathan, the IG and the PDP.
The caucus said it was aware of various steps taken to “harass and intimidate” Tambuwal since he defected to the APC from PDP on Tuesday last week.
The group cited the withdrawal of his police security personnel as one instance, and the underground moves to reconvene the House in “breach” of its rules as another.
The caucus asked to know why the recent defection of the Speaker of the Ondo State House of Assembly to PDP from Labour Party was not considered an offence by the Presidency and the PDP.
Gbajabiamila said, “What makes the case of the Speaker of Ondo Assembly different from Tambuwal’s? His political opinion? Let us make this abundantly clear; the legislature is a separate but equal arm of government. It is not inferior nor is it subservient to the Executive. Their powers are separated under the constitution and it can never be an extension or department of the Presidency or PDP.
“Just as the legislature cannot regulate the workings of the presidency or determine for the President when he should call Federal Executive Council meetings and we note that there was a time he did not for months, so also can the Presidency not determine for the House when to reconvene or meet.”
He added that the House was properly adjourned on October 28 to reconvene on December 3 in compliance with it rules.
Gbajabiamila said that the caucus would maintain its ground that the House would not reconvene before December 3 except on the approval of Tambuwal.
The APC leader in the House said, “The President cannot do it, a political party cannot do it, the deputy speaker lacks the powers and indeed it is beyond the signatures of 120,150, 250 or 350 members.
“That power resides solely and exclusively with Mr. Speaker. We had hoped that the PDP and the Executive would at least this one time be decorous in their conduct and respect the rule of law and the legislature but we were wrong.”
But, in a swift reaction, the PDP caucus advised their colleagues in the APC to reason more and talk less.
Deputy House Majority Leader, who responded on behalf of the caucus, said, “What I will tell the APC members, especially Femi (Gbajabiamila), is that he should use his head, not his mouth too much.”
Ogor claimed that the “confrontational approach” adopted by the APC caucus in “handling this matter will not get them anywhere.”
“I expect Gbajabiamila to learn to use his head, else if the heavens fall, all us will bear the consequences,” he added, saying that at the “appropriate time” the PDP caucus would reply the APC caucus adequately.
Asked whether the caucus would still go ahead to reconvene the House on Tuesday (today), Ogor told The PUNCH that much depended on the outcome of the enlarged emergency meeting of the PDP fixed for 8 pm on Monday (last night).
Before the meeting between the PDP leadership and the party caucus ended, Mu’azu got a summon from Jonathan, ostensibly on how to remove the Speaker.