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Saraki, Dogara, 52 others to respond to suit challenging defection

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The Federal High Court Abuja on Friday, gave Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and 52 other lawmakers until April 17 to file their responses to a suit asking them to vacate their seats.

An advocacy group, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, (LEDAP) dragged the lawmakers to court seeking a declaration that they were no longer members of the National Assembly having defected to other political parties before the expiration of their tenure.

The defendants comprise 17 Senators, 37 members of the House of Representatives, the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the clerks to both houses.

When the matter was called, Mr Efut Okoi announced appearance for the senate and the senators while Safiya Mohammed announced appearance for the members.

Both counsels urged the court to entertain their applications noting that a litigant’s choice of counsel was his fundamental right.

Mr Jubrin Okutepa, (SAN) who announced appearance for LEDAP said that the defendants were attempting to confuse the court by changing counsel.

He noted that at Thursday’s proceedings, Mr Mahmud Magaji, SAN,  announced appearance for all the defendants and wondered why that had changed.

He urged the court to ask Magaji to move the applications he had earlier filed and strike out any other applications before the court with regards to the suit.

Magaji, in one of his applications, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter on the grounds that the plaintiff had no “locus standi” to file the suit.

The trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, however, held that it was in the interest of justice to hear all counsel in the matter.

He ruled that the plaintiff, (LEDAP) was at liberty to reply to all the processes filed by the defendants on or before April 15 and ordered the defendants to file their reply by April 17.

He said that any party that failed to abide by the court ‘s directive would have itself to blame.

The judge adjourned the matter until April 18.

The court on Thursday suspended delivering judgment the suit, even though the judge said it was ready, in order to give the defendants an


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