The Federal High Court, Abuja, has ordered that a senator, Stella Oduah, appear before it and state her defence in the suit filed against her by JohnMary Jideobi, an Abuja-based lawyer.

The judge, Ahmed Musa, made the order Tuesday following the petition filed to declare Mrs Oduah’s seat vacant after her defection from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).

Mrs Oduah, who defected in June, was elected senator on the platform of the PDP in 2015 but fell apart with PDP when she could not secure the party’s governorship ticket for the Anambra State governorship election that held in 2017.

In the papers made available to newsmen, Mr Jideobi asked the court to determine whether Mrs Oduah’s seat ought not to have been vacated, by the virtue of her defection.

“Whether upon an intimate reading and complete understanding of section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and especially in view of the decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court in Abegundu v. Ondo State House of Assembly, (2015) 8 NWLR. Part 1461 Page 314, the Defendant who defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance from the People’s Democratic Party [on which platform she was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and where there was no faction as at time of her defection] ought not to have her seat in the Senate declared vacant by this Honourable Court,” the papers read in part.

According to the application, the plaintiff wants Mrs Oduah to resign office and turn in her allowances.

“A Declaration of this Honourable Court that upon an intimate reading and complete understanding of section 68(1) (g) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and especially in view of the decision of the Nigerian Supreme Court in Abegundu v. Ondo State House of Assembly, (2015) 8 NWLR. Part 1461 Page 314, the Defendant who defected to the All Progressives Grand Alliance from the People’s Democratic Party [on which platform she was elected a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and where there was no faction as at time of her defection] ought to have her seat in the Senate declared vacant by this Honourable Court

“An Order of this Honourable Court declaring vacant the Anambra North Senatorial seat currently occupied by Senator Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi and cancelling her Certificate of Return.

“An Order of this Honourable Court compelling the Defendant to relinquish and return Forthwith [to the Treasury Single Account domiciled at the Central Bank of Nigeria] all salaries, emoluments, allowances and such other monetary benefits [howsoever named] paid to her as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from June, 2018 [being the month of her unlawful defection] to the delivery of judgment in this suit or end of May, 2019 [whichever one occurs first] and to file [with the Registry of this Honourable Court] an affidavit of having complied with the terms of this order Court’s Order within fourteen (14) days of the making of this Order,” were the reliefs sought.

The plaintiff is also asking the court to ensure that upon delivery, the decision of the court will be attended timeously.

Mrs Oduah was ordered by the judge to appear and defend the allegations against her.

“The plaintiff/applicant is hereby ordered to serve the defendant/respondent herein with this court’s Ex-parte order, the originating processes and all other processes in this suit by serving same on the office of the Clerk of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or by Publishing same in any Newspaper circulating in the Federal capital, Abuja.

“The defendant is hereby ordered to enter appearance and file her defence in this suit within five days.”

Mr Musa adjourned the matter to August 29 for hearing of the originating summons.

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