THE Federal High Court in Abuja will on May 10, 2017 to determine whether to stay or not the proceedings in the suit filed by the suspended Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Hon Abdulmumuni Jibrin challenging the legality of his suspension.
Justice John Tsoho fixed the date on Friday after hearing arguments for and against an application by two members of the House, Hon Nicholas Ossai, Chairman House Committee on Ethics and Hon Oker Jev who are asking the court to put the hearing of the substantive matter on hold.
They are asking the court to stay hearing in the matter pending the determination of their interlocutory appeal pending before the Court of Appeal.
In their motion for stay of proceedings filed by their counsel, Mr Akeem Kareem, the two lawmakers informed the court that they had already filed a notice of appeal against the ruling of the court delivered on April 13 which disallowed them from joining the suit as interested parties.
They claimed, through their counsel that they were dissatisfied with the ruling of the court which shut them out hence their decision to go on appeal to resolve the issue of joinder.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, the two applicants submitted that their interest will be greatly jeopardised 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, Hon Yakubu Dogara and the house itself.
Dogara, through his counsel, Mr Kalu Onuoha told Justice John 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, Mr 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 stand to do so.
Falana submitted that the two applicants had been effectively shut out from joining the case since April 13 through the court’s ruling and that for them to appear in the matter or file interlocutory appeal, they needed to obtain leave of the court first.
The senior counsel submitted that in the absence of the leave of the court, the appeal of the two applicants was incompetent and invalid for any court to adjudicate upon.
However in his ruling, Justice Tsoho agreed that the two applicants were refused to be joined in the matter and that they needed leave of the court before they could file any appeal.
The judge however said that the issue of fair hearing is constitutional and takes precedence over any other rule and therefore, agreed to hear the motion seeking to stay proceedings in the interest of fair hearing.
The matter was subsequently adjourned until May 10 for hearing of the motion.