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Court commences hearing on suit against confab Tuesday

An Abuja Federal High Court will on Tuesday (tomorrow) commence hearing in a suit in which ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s former lawyer, Dr. Tunji Abayomi, is challenging the constitutionality of the National Conference.

Abayomi wants the court to stop the Federal Government from going ahead with the conference.

President Goodluck Jonathan; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, SAN; the President of the Senate, David Mark; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, are the defendants in the suit.

In an SMS to our correspondent on Sunday, Abayomi confirmed that the suit would come up before Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Abuja FHC.

The plaintiff said all the defendants had been served with the originating summons.

The lawyer’s SMS read, “Hearing on the constitutionality of the National Conference begins on Tuesday March 18, before Justice Kafarati at the Federal High Court; all parties, including the President, having been served.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/ 167/204 and dated March 3, 2014, Abayomi argued that the President lacked the powers to convoke or convene a national conference without authorising legislation from the National Assembly.

He asked 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.

In an affidavit in support of the suit, deposed to by one Mr. Patrick Bisong, a litigation clerk in Abayomi’s office, the lawyer said the Federal Government planned “to spend billions of public money to fund the conference despite the absence of any law enabling the President to convoke the conference.”

The plaintiff therefore asked the court to restrain the Federal Government from going ahead with the conference.

Abayomi had informed the court that if the national conference was not stopped, “billions of tax payers’ money will be spent unconstitutionally.”

Noting that “the President is working with deliberate speed to convene the  conference,” the plaintiff urged the court to expedite hearing on the suit.

The court will begin hearing on the suit on Tuesday, 24 hours after the commencement of the national conference.

President Jonathan will on Monday inaugurate the conference, which will take place at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja.

The commencement of the hearing is also coming on the heels of the rejection of the national talks by the Northern Elders Forum.

The group said the conference had no constitutional basis and any form of legitimacy or authority to speak for the people of the North or other Nigerians.

Jonathan had said that the outcome of the national conference would be sent to the National Assembly as part of the ongoing Constitution amendment programme.

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