National Confab; Court Joins Kutigi, Others In Suit Challenging President Jonathan
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, March 18, (THEWILL) - The Chairman of the National Conference, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi (rtd), the Vice Chairman, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi and the conference Secretary, Dr.
(Mrs) Valerie Azinge have been joined as fifth to seventh defendants in a suit filed by a constitutional lawyer, Dr.
Tunji Abayomi at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The suit filed on Tuesday is challenging the powers of President Jonathan to convoke the conference and is seeking to stop it.
The case was however adjourned till March 31 for hearing.
Abayomi had on March 4 approached the court asking it to stop the conference, saying President Jonathan lacked the power to convene it.
Joined as first to fourth defendants are the President, the Attorney General of the Federation, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The plaintiff asked the court to determine whether a National Conference could be convened by the President or Federal Government of Nigeria without a law made by the National Assembly enabling them to do so.
He asked the court to declare that a National Conference with stated authority, programme, means and end, howsoever, could not at all be convoked on convened by the President or Government of Nigeria without a law made by the National Assembly enabling them to do so.
He also asked the court to restrain the President and the Federal Government perpetually from holding any national conference, without a law made by the National Assembly enabling them to do so.
At the resumed hearing onn Tuesday, the plaintiff prayed the court for leave to join the chairman, vice chairman and secretary of the conference in the suit.
He based his application on the ground that the trio were the ones to pilot the affairs of the conference and hence the suit would be incomplete without them.
Counsel to the defendants, Femi Falana (SAN), did not oppopose the application.
He rather urged the plaintiff to withdraw the interlocutory application so as to pave way for the hearing of the substantive suit.
Abayomi later withdrew the suit on the request of Falana.
In a nine-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by one Patrick Bisong, a litigation clerk in the office of the plaintiff, the plaintiff averred that the Federal Government planned to spend billions of public money to fund the conference despite the absence of any law enabling the President to convoke the conference and notwithstanding the limited power vested in the President to use money to execute law.
He said unless an interlocutory injunction was granted the President would go ahead outside the law to convene the said National Conference with billions of Naira expended unconstitutionally.
The plaintiff further asked the court to restrain the Federal Government from going ahead with the conference, saying if it was not restrained, billions of tax payers money would be spent unconstitutionally.
He further argued that the President was working with deliberate speed to convene the conference.
Abayomi in addition said the constitution foisted on Nigeria by the military and made binding on Nigeria by Decree 24 of 1999 which was relied upon by the three powers- Legislative, Executive and Judiciary - in the interim, gave the President no legislative powers.
Abayomi said instead, it vested the law making power on the National Assembly headed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.