Court fixes Match 31 to hear suit seeking to stop confab

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday fixed March 31 to begin hearing in a suit filed

by a constitutional lawyer, Dr Tunji Abayomi, seeking to stop the National Conference.

Justice Abdul Kafarati fixed the date after listening to the plaintiff who represented himself and Mr Femi Falana, SAN,

counsel to the Federal Government.

Joined as defendants in the suit are President Goodluck Jonathan, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

When the case came up on Tuesday, Abayomi informed the court that the third and fourth defendants were not represented and he was also seeking leave of court to amend the processes which he filed before the court.

This, he said, became necessary so that he could join those leading the national conference as parties in the suit because

the government had already inaugurated the conference.

Falana said he was not objecting to the motion and Kafarati, in a short ruling, granted the plaintiff’s prayer.

Kafarati, therefore, joined Justice Idris Kutigi, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi and  Mrs Valarie Azinge, conference chairman,

vice-chairman and secretary, respectively, as fifth, sixth and seventh defendants in the suit.

He also ordered that hearing notices be served on all parties to reflect the fresh amendments.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abayomi had challenged the constitutionality of the National Conference and prayed the court to stop the government from proceeding with it.

He had via an originating summons dated March 3 in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/167/204 argued that the President lacked the powers to convoke or convene a national conference without an authorising legislation from the National Assembly.

Abayomi had, therefore, prayed the court to determine whether a national conference could be convened by the President and/or Federal Government of Nigeria without an enabling law made by the National Assembly.

He said the Federal Government was planning to spend about N8 billions of public money to fund the conference despite the absence of any law enabling the President to convoke the conference.

According to him, if the national conference was not stopped, billions of tax payers’ money would be spent unconstitutionally.

“The President is working with deliberate speed to convene the conference,” Abayomi had submitted, and urged the court to expedite hearing on the suit.

President Goodluck had on Monday inaugurated the 492 delegates to the confab.