Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted leave for service of forms 48 and 49 and other processes on the Senate and its President through newspaper publication (advert).
The applicant is seeking to effect service of Form 48, a notice of contempt and Form 49, which is a notice of committal on the respondents for refusing to accept personal service of the court processes.
This latest move by Omo-Agege is aimed at enforcing the judgement delivered in his favour by the court on May 10, 2018.
In an ex parte application dated 11th June, but filed the next day, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, counsel to Omo-Agege, told the court since May, when an order was made nullifying the suspension of the senator, the Senate has not paid him his outstanding salaries and allowances as directed by the court.
Izinyon complained to the court on Thursday, that they were faced with difficulties serving the respondents, particularly the Senate President.
Omo-Agege’s lawyer informed the trial judge that the bailiff of the court said the security at the gate of the National Assembly did not allow him access to the respondents.
In view of the argument of Izinyon’s submission, Justice Dimgba in a short ruling, granted the order for substituted service as prayed by the applicant.
It would be ecalled that on May 10, Justice Dimgba had nullified the suspension of Omo-Agege from the Senate for 90 legislative days.
Following his suspension, Omo-Agege headed to the court to seek redress wherein he filed a suit against the Senate (1st defendant), the Senate President (2nd defendant), and the Attorney General of the Federation (3rd).
By the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/314/2018, Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central Senatorial District had challenged his suspension from the Senate, saying it was illegal.
But in a judgement on the suit, Dimgba held that the suspension of the Senator during the pendency of the suit was unconstitutional and an affront on the judiciary.
“This is not the best of practice from the 1st and 2nd defendants, who ought to have stayed action pending the outcome of the suit,” the judge held.
“The 1st and 2nd defendants went out of track and arrived at a false end by punishing the plaintiff for exercising his constitutional right by going to court” Justice Dimgba posited.
The court noted that it was wrong for the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions to suspend Omo-Agege for going to court after he had apologised over his comments against the Senate,” the court stated.
Justice Dimgba held that the decision of the Senate to suspend Omo-Agege for instituting the suit was a clear breach of Section 4(8) and 6(6b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.
“Access to court is a constitutional right that cannot be taken away from. Judiciary is the hope of the common man and access to court is one of the key indicators of democracy and rule of law, Justice Dimgba said.
“This court is minded to say that the reason for the suspension of the plaintiff by the 1st and 2nd defendants was unconstitutional” he court held.
“The suspension is ultra vires which the court is imbued to set aside. The provision of Section 4(8) of the Constitution is automatically invoked, the court held.
In arriving at his decision, Justice Dimgba said it was imperative to ascertain whether or not the 1st and 2nd defendants acted within the law in suspending the plaintiff.
The court noted that by Order 67(4) of the Senate Standing Rules 2015 as amended, a senator could only be suspended for one day and not exceeding 14 days.
But after reviewing facts of the case, and subsequent suspension of the plaintiff for 90 legislative days, “I am not convinced that due process was followed” Justice Dimgba reasoned.
Though the court refused prayers one to seven of the plaintiff, however, it relied on the 8th relief which had sought for “any other order as may be deemed by the court.
Earlier, the court dismissed a notice of preliminary objection filed by the 1st and 2nd defendants, challenging jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.
Having nullified Omo-Agege’s suspension, Justice Dimgba ordered the Senate to pay the plaintiff all his salaries and allowances.