A Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, Thursday, suspended judgment in a legal action seeking the sack of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and 53 others over their defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) last year.
The court suspended the verdict scheduled for delivery today following the appearance of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mahmoud Magaji, who made a case of fair hearing for the national lawmakers.
Although, presiding Justice Okon Abang expressed reservation on the inability of the legislators to defend the suit brought against them by a civil group, Legal Defence and Assistance Project, (LEDAP), he nontheless consented that since the lawmakers have woken from their slumber, it would be in the interest of justice to hear their own side of the story.
In his words, “The defendants had sufficient time to challenge this suit but failed. They allowed the plaintiff to incur cost to prosecute this matter and also allowed the court to painstakingly prepare judgment.
“They are now in court trying to arrest the judgment”.
Abang, however, maintained that notwithstanding what the plaintiff and the court had gone through, the right of the defendants to be heard was a fundamental matter.
He said, “I think the defendants should be heard before judgment is given.
“It will be a breach of the fundamental right of the defendants to fair hearing, though they came late into the matter, for the court to proceed and deliver judgment.
“I will reluctantly suspend delivery of the judgment to allow the defendants to be heard”.
In his ruling on an application moved by Mogaji, Justice Abang ordered the respondents to file their processes and serve the plaintiff by Thursday and, the plaintiff upon receipt of the respondents processes must reply within five hours.
Justice Abang who fixed hearing in the matter till Friday, ruled that he had adjourned in view of the circumstances of the suit.
It would be recalled that LEDAP had dragged Saraki and the 53 other 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 group, in their suit filed on September 14, 2018, prayed the court for an interpretation of Section 68(1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution.