*’Remedy alleged wrong or appear in court to defend yourself,’ judge tells Senate President
A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed October 18 for the commencement of hearing in the contempt proceedings initiated against Senate President, Bukola Saraki by Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta Central).
Omo-Agege initiated the contempt proceedings upon his claim that Saraki was withholding his entitlement, as a serving Senator, following the court’s nullification of his suspension by the Senate.
The Saraki-led Sanate had, earlier this year suspended Omo-Agege, which suspension the court, in a May 10, 2018 judgement, set aside, ordered his reinstatement and the payment of all his accrued benefits for the period of the suspension.
On Thursday, Omo-Agege’s lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN) told the court that his client’s application for Saraki’s committal was ripe for hearing.
Iziyon prayed the court to hear the application since Saraki has allegedly chosen not to attend court or obey the court’s subsisting judgment.
Izinyon, in the application, a Form 49, noted that while Omo-Agege was been allowed to resume at the Senate, Saraki had allegedly continued to flout the order directing that the applicant be paid all his entitlements.
He said Saraki, in flouting the judgment, had refused to give an approval to the payment as ordered by the court.
Ruling, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba said he would give Saraki another chance to either “remedy the alleged wrong” or appear in court to defend himself.
Justice Dimgba agreed with Izinyon that his application was actually ripe for hearing.
He noted that the court’s records showed that Saraki had been served with the motion on notice and hearing notice for the Thursday’s proceedings through a newspaper publication made on September 25, 2018 as ordered by the court.
Justice Dimgba directed Izinyon to write Saraki and the Senate’s Legal Department, informing them that the court has scheduled October 18 for the hearing of the contempt proceedings.
The judge said:”Upon this motion on notice dated and filed on August 15, 2018, praying for the committal of the Senate President to prison for contempt of court coming up before this honourable court today for hearing; and after hearing Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) with Hanatu Abdularim, Friday Izinyon, Alex Izinyon II, J.A Gesa, for the judgment/creditor/applicant urging that the court should proceed with the hearing;
“It is hereby ordered as follows:
*That indeed from the records of the court, the Senate President, the alleged contemnor, was served with the motion and hearing notice by advertisement as ordered by the court at pages 35 – 36 of The Nation Newspaper of September 25, 2018; this motion is therefore ripe for hearing.
*That in the interest of justice, and to give the alleged contemnor another opportunity to remedy the alleged wrong or even to appear to defend himself, and as a demonstration of the court’s commitment for justice, the court directs the applicant/judgment/creditor’s counsel to write to the alleged contemnor and the legal department of the Senate informing them of the next adjourned date.
*That it will be useful out of abundant of caution that this letter is accompanied with a hearing notice being a court issued process.”
Justice Dimgba thereafter adjourned to October 18 for “definite hearing.”
The judge had, on May 16, 2018 dismissed the application by The Senate and Saraki, seeking a stay of execution of the May 10, 2018 judgment, which nullified the 90-day suspension imposed Omo-Ageg by the Senate.
In dismissing the application, the judge was of the view that the application and its accompanying notice of appeal were based on a wrong notion of the judgment being challenged.
The judge noted that the application failed to show that it was targeted at the court’s judgment of May 10, 2018.
Justice Dimgba said, while the application sought a stay of the judgment in which all the plaintiff’s prayers were granted, the May 10 judgment did not grant all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff.