CJ directs judge to deliver verdict in The Nation’s suit against Senate
The Chief Judge (CJ) of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has directed that judgment should be delivered in the suit filed by The Nation Newspapers against the Senate.
The judgment was to be delivered by Justice Mohammed Yunusa before he was transferred from Lagos to Enugu Division.
Vintage Press Limited (publisher of The Nation), Editor, Gbenga Omotoso and a correspondent, Imam Bello, are the applicants that had sued the Senate and National Assembly through their counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu.
A new judge, Justice Jude Dagat, took over the case, but the plaintiffs applied to the CJ for a fiat to enable Justice Yunusa return to Lagos to deliver the judgment rather than the case starting de novo (afresh).
The applicants are also praying for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate from summoning them or compelling their appearance over a story.
The Senate, last August 4, invited Omotoso and Bello over the story: Motion: 22 APC northern senators ‘working against Buhari’, which was published last July 30.
The Senate wrote again last August 11 threatening to invoke Section 89 (1) (D) of the 1999 Constitution (As amended) to compel the applicants to appear.
But Justice Yunusa made an interim order of injunction restraining the respondents from issuing a warrant to compel the applicants’ attendance before a Senate committee set up to investigate the publication.
He barred the respondents, their members, committees or agents from summoning the applicants or their agents before any Senate committee.
In the fiat issued on February 10 and signed by the CJ, he directed Justice Yunusa to return to Lagos to deliver the judgment.
It reads: “In exercise of powers conferred on me by virtue of Section 19 (3) of the Federal High Court Act 1973 and all other powers enabling me in that regard, I, Ibrahim Ndahi Auta (OFR), Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, do hereby order that the judgments in the civil suits listed in the schedule of this order which were pending before Hon. Justice M. N. Yunusa formerly sitting in the Lagos Judicial Division, be delivered by Hon. Justice M. N. Yunusa sitting in the Lagos Judicial Division.”
The four cases listed in the schedule are Alhaji Jibrin Okelewu vs IGP, Vintage Press Limited vs National Assembly, Songhai Energy vs Maersk and Valueline Securities vs Bishop David Oyedepo.
In an application filed last December 1, the Senate prayed the court not to deliver the judgment but to extend the time within which it “may” file and serve its counter-affidavit.
The Senate sought an order striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and prayed the court to set aside the proceedings, its orders and decisions.
In a supporting affidavit, Clerk of the Senate’s Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions Committee, Freedom Osolo, said the National Assembly’s inability to respond to the suit on time “is not deliberate but is due to the non-service of the aforesaid process of this court on the second respondent.”
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