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Defection: Akpabio distances himself from Saraki, Dogara, others

Ifreke Inyang

May. 14, 2019

Former Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has distanced himself from the joint defence conducted for him, the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and others in a suit, challenging the propriety of their defection from their last political party.
Akpabio made this known in a motion, he filed before a Federal High Court on Monday.
The former Akwa Ibom State Governor, who was elected Senator in 2015 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in 2018 defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Saraki, House of Representatives Speaker, Yakubu Dogara and others also defected from the APC to the PDP.
The suit was instituted on July 2018, by an advocacy body known as Legal Defence and Assistant Project (LEPAD).
LEPAD is seeking the court to declare the seat of the affected national legislators vacant, over their defections.
The lawmakers had responded by asking the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit.
Justice Abang after listening to the arguments from both parties had on April 30, adjourned until May 17 for judgment.
However, few days before the judgment, Akpabio approached the court for permission to challenge the suit seeking their removal from office on grounds of their defection.
Akpabio who is the third defendant, is praying the court for an extension of time, to personally file his response before judgment is delivered.
The plaintiff’s counsel, Ede Uko in his response, had urged the court to discountenance the application as it was meant to arrest judgment slated for May 17.
Ruling on Akpabio’s application, Justice Abang agreed with the submissions of Akpabio’s counsel, Mr Sunday Ameh, SAN, that the suit was not a class action, hence the applicant was entitled to be heard.
Abang held that it would not be proper to shut the applicant out, when he said he was not served by the clerk of the National Assembly.
“Serving of originating process on a person cannot be presumed, it cannot be waived, and he must be heard. It is his fundamental human right,” Abang held in the ruling.’
He adjourned the matter until May 14 for parties to adopt their processes, adding that the court may still go ahead with the judgment on May 17.
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