Two chieftains of People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alaye Pedro and Dr Okechukwu Ibeh, on Tuesday approached the Federal High Court, Abuja over the position of Senate Minority Leader.
The plaintiffs in an ex-parte application sought an order restraining the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and members of the PDP caucus from the South-South from appointing the Senate Minority Leader.
The plaintiffs joined Saraki and Akpabio as the first and second respondents to the suit, which is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/602/2015.
Other respondents are 16 PDP senators from the South South, which include Senators Nelson Effiong, Bassey Albert, Emmanuel Paulker, Ogola Foster, Ben Murray Bruce, John Enoh, Gershom Bassey, Rose Oko, James Manager and Peter Nwaoboshi.
They also joined Senators Ighoyota Amori, Clifford Ordia, Mathew Urhoghide, George Sekibo, Olaka Nwogu, and Osinakchukwu Ideozu as respondents.
Pedro from Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers, and Ibeh from Umukegwu/Umuodia LGA of Imo State, want the restraining order to last till when their main suit is heard and determined.
According to them, Order 3 (2) of Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) prohibits the appointment of a first-time Senator into any position of the Senate’s principal offices.
Recalled that the Senate Minority Leader has been zoned to the South-South geo-political zone and former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio, is aspiring for the position.
The PDP being the leading minority party in the Senate is in the position to present the Minority Leader of the Senate, but Akpabio of PDP, is a first-time senator.
Banji Akomolafe, the plaintiffs’ counsel who argued their ex-parte application on Monday contended that Akpabio had been tipped for the position of the Senate Minority Leader in breach of the rules.
He referred the judge to a newspaper report marked Exhibit D, which is part of the exhibits filed along with the ex-parte application and the main suit.
The plaintiffs said: “The larger PDP caucus in the 8th National Assembly have concluded plans to subvert the mandatory provisions of Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders.”
“The PDP South-South caucus is bound to select or appoint the Minority Leader in strict compliance with Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) which emphasizes ranking as the basis for appointment of principal officers.”
Akomolafe therefore urged the court to restrain the respondents from taking steps on the appointment of the Senate Majority Leader pending the determination of the suit.
He also asked the court to grant an order of substituted service on the respondents through newspaper publications.
Akomolafe sought in the main suit, a declaration that Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) on the procedure for appointment of principal officers of the Senate should apply in the selection as it is mandatory.
He also prayed the court to grant a declaration that the appointment of the Minority Leader of the Senate in breach of Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) “is void.”
The plaintiffs’ counsel further sought an order directing the respondents to comply with Order 3(2) of the Senate Standing Orders 2015 in the appointment of the Minority leader.