Jibrin vs Dogara: Court Stays Proceedings Pending Appeal Court Decision
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has suspending hearing on the charges brought before it by the suspended Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumuni Jibrin challenging the legality of his suspension, pending determination of an application before the court of appeal.
The court at the last sitting, had adjourned the matter for hearing an application by two members of the House, Nicholas Ossai, Chairman House Committee on Ethics and Oker Jev who are asking the court to put the hearing of the substantive matter on hold, pending its appeal against ruling of the Federal High Court which dismissed its application to be joined in the matter.
Justice Tsoho in his ruling held that even though, the appellants were not parties in the suit before him, if there appeal succeeds, “they will be made parties” in the suit, and as such the carpet should not be swept off their feet pending the determination of the stay of proceedings filed at the appeal court.
“The constitutional right to be heard is a fundamental one, it is in line with this that the court would suspend proceedings pending the determination of the stay of proceedings, at the court of appeal”, the court held.
The trial court subsequently adjourned the matter pending decision of the appeal court.
However, the 180 days suspension handed down to the lawmaker is due to expire in a matter of days, as such, even with the matter at the appeal court, it could eventually amount to an academic exercise.
The two applicants had submitted before the court that their interest will be greatly jeopadised if the court should go ahead and hear the substantive matter without first waiting for the resolution of the appeal which they claimed was their fundamental right.
They insisted that it would be against the principles of fair hearing if their application for stay of proceedings was not first determined one way or the other by the court before proceeding with the substantive matter.
The position of the two lawmakers in seeking the stay of proceedings was supported by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the house itself.
Dogara, through his counsel, Kalu Onuoha told Justice Tsoho that he had been served with the motion seeking the stay of proceedings and that he needed time to respond to it as required by law arguing that it was the fundamental right of the two applicants to be fairly heard by the court in the application.
However, in a strong opposition to the motion, counsel to the suspended member, Femi Falana SAN asked the court to discountenance the motion for stay of proceedings on the grounds that those seeking to stop the substantive matter have no locus standi to do so.