The Federal High Court Abuja will on May 10, determine whether or not to put on hold, proceedings in the suit instituted by Rep. Abdulmumuni Jibrin challenging the legality of his suspension.
Jibrin is the suspended Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation.
Justice John Tsoho fixed the date on Friday after hearing arguments for and against an application filed by two members of the House, Rep. Nicholas Ossai, and Rep. Oker Jev.
The two members are asking the court to put the hearing of the substantive matter on hold, pending the determination of their interlocutory appeal before the Court of Appeal.
Counsel to the lawmakers, Mr Akeem Kareem, told the court that they had already filed a notice of appeal against the ruling of the court delivered on April 13, which prevented them from joining the suit as interested parties.
The lawmakers’ counsel said that they were dissatisfied with the ruling of the court.
They held that the ruling shut them out of the substantive suit, hence their decision to go on appeal to resolve the issue of being joined as interested parties.
The two applicants submitted that their interest would be jeopadised and their rights infringed on, should the court go ahead and hear the substantive matter without waiting for the resolution of the appeal.
They insisted that it would be against the principles of fair hearing if their application for stay of proceedings was not first determined 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, Mr Yakubu Dogara, and the House of Representatives.
Dogara’s counsel, Mr Kalu Onuoha, told the court that he had been served with the motion seeking the stay of proceedings.
He however said that he needed time to respond to it as required by law, adding that it was the fundamental right of the two applicants to get fair hearing from the court.
In opposing the motion, Jibrin’s counsel, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), asked the court to discountenance the motion for stay of proceedings.
He said this was on the grounds that those seeking to stop the substantive matter had no “locus standi” (business) to do so.
Falana argued that the two lawmakers had been effectively shut out from joining the case by the April 13 ruling of the court.
According to him, for them to appear in the matter or file an interlocutory appeal, they need to obtain leave of the court first.
He held that without the leave of the court, the appeal of the two lawmakers was incompetent and invalid, and therefore could not be adjudicated upon by any court.
Justice Tsoho, in his ruling, said that the two lawmakers needed the leave of the court before they could file an appeal.
He however agreed to hear the motion seeking to stay proceedings in the interest of fair hearing, adding that the issue of fair hearing was constitutional and took precedence over any other matter.
Tsoho adjourned the matter until May 10 for hearing of the application.