A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, refused to grant an ex-parte application filed by two Chieftains of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Hon. Alaye Pedro and Dr. Okechukwu Ibeh, seeking to stop the Senate from choosing its Minority Leader.
The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, while delivering ruling on the case, held that the plaintiffs did not have the locus standi to file the action since they were not aspiring for the said position.
The judge, instead, ordered that the respondents should be served with the originating summons through substituted means to enable them to be put on notice.
Kolawole also ordered that the processes filed in the matter should be published in two national dailies, specifically, The Punch and ThisDay Newspapers.
It would be recalled that the plaintiffs had approached the court on Tuesday with an an ex-parte application seeking an order restraining the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and members of PDP caucus from the South-South zone from appointing ex-governor Godswill Akpabio as the Senate Minority Leader.
The plaintiffs joined Saraki and Akpabio as the first and second respondents to the suit, which is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/602/2015.
Other respondents are 16 PDP senators from the South South, which include Senators Nelson Effiong, Bassey Albert, Emmanuel Paulker, Ogola Foster, Ben Murray Bruce, John Enoh, Gershom Bassey, Rose Oko, James Manager and Peter Nwaoboshi.
They also joined Senators Ighoyota Amori, Clifford Ordia, Mathew Urhoghide, George Sekibo, Olaka Nwogu, and Osinakchukwu Ideozu, as respondents.
Pedro, from Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers, and Ibeh, from Umukegwu/Umuodia LGA of Imo State, want the restraining order to last till when their main suit is heard and determined.
According to them, Order 3(2) of Senate Standing Orders 2015 (as amended) prohibits the appointment of a first-time Senator into any position of the Senate’s principal offices.
The Senate Minority Leader has been zoned by PDP, being the biggest minority party, to the South-South geo-political zone and the former Governor of Akwa Ibom, is angling for the position.
The PDP being the leading minority party in the Senate is in the position to present the Minority Leader of the Senate, but Akpabio of PDP, is a first-time senator.
Mr. Banji Akomolafe, the plaintiffs’ counsel who argued their ex-parte application on Tuesday contended that Akpabio had been tipped for the position of the Senate Minority Leader in breach of the rules.