Omo-Agege: Urhobo ethnic nationality rallies to his defence

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The Urhobo ethnic nationality in Delta State has sued the senate at a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, seeking for an order to stop the suspension of Senator Ovie Omo-Agege who represents Delta Central senatorial district.

The Senate had yesterday suspended the lawmaker for 90 days over his comment that the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010 to reorder the sequence of polls in a general election was targeted at President Muhammadu Buhari.

The senate committee on ethics, privileges and public petitions had investigated Omo-Agege’s comment based on a petition by Senator Dino Melaye.

The report by the committee, which was considered at the plenary on Thursday, had found Omo-Agege guilty despite his apology to the chamber and recommended that he be suspended for 181 legislative days (one year).

In the suit, the plaintiffs, Chief Alfred Okaka, Mr. Chris Agaga, Mr. Kingsley Okrikpo, Harrison Akpojarho, Manny Edu, Lyndon Ugbome, Moses Adegor and Godspower Emowhomuere, contended that the suspension had denied the Urhobo ethnic group representation in the senate.

They prayed the court to hold that the “rights of the people of Delta Central senatorial district to an unfettered representation in the legislative business of the Senate by Senator Omo-Agege constitutionally guaranteed for a tenure of four years cannot be abridged, diminuted, suspended, abrogated and or vitiated, except as stipulated by the 1999 Constitution (as amended.)”.

Defendants in the suit are senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, deputy senate president, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, clerk of the senate, the Department of State Services (DSS), the attorney-general of the federation, inspector- general of police and Senator Omo-Agege.

The plaintiffs are also praying the court to restrain Omo-Agege from appearing before any committee of the Senate to defend himself on his claim that President Muhammadu Buhari is the target of the bill to amend the Electoral Act.

They also want the court to declare that “under the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the plaintiffs’ elected senator (Omo-Agege), representing Delta Central senatorial district cannot be made to vacate office other than as provided for by sections 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Besides, they want a declaration that “the senate has no power under the 1999 Constitution as amended to suspend from office any senator and in particular, the 8th Defendant representing the Plaintiffs and other constituents of Delta Central senatorial district in the senate.”

Meanwhile, the Federal High Court in Abuja rejected an ex parte application filed by the lawmaker to stop his suspension by the Senate.

He had, on April 3, filed the ex-parte application before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, asking the court to order that “all further proceedings against the plaintiff (the Senator) in respect of the allegations referred to the 1st defendant’s (Senate) Committee for Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition” be halted pending the hearing and determination of his main suit.

Omo-Agege asked the court to order parties to the main suit, earlier filed on March 26, 2018, “not to consider, act on or give effect to any recommendation, resolution or decision of the 1st respondent’s (Senate) Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petition.”

The defendants in the suit are the Senate, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba had refused to grant the order and directed the parties to maintain the status quo.

He held that “in the interest of maintaining the balance of power between the judicial and the legislative organs of government,” he could not grant such orders without hearing from the defendants.

Rather, the judge ordered that the defendants be served with the processes in the suit to enable them to respond to Omo-Agege’s application.

Dimgba ordered as follows: “That in the interest of maintaining the balance of power between the judicial and the legislative organs of government, I am not minded to granting the reliefs sought for now without hearing from the defendants.

“That the defendants shall be put on notice to appear before me to explain why the interim preservatory order sought should not be granted.

“That this matter shall be accorded an accelerated hearing.”

The judge then adjourned until Friday (today) for hearing.

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