A Federal High Court in Abuja has struck suit that sought to prevent the removal of the leaders of the Senate in ways other than as provided in the Constitution.
In a judgment on Monday, Justice John Tsoho said the plaintiff – the Civil Society Observatory for Constitutional and Legal Compliance (CSOCLC), failed to establish its claim of plot to unlawfully remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu
The plaintiff had on August 29, 2018 after some security personnel laid to the residences of Saraki and Ekweremadu last year in an alleged attempt to prevent them from accessing the Senate chamber.
CSOCLC had claimed the incident was a plot by the All Progressives Congress (APC) members in the Senate, the executive arm of government and security agencies to harass Saraki and Ekweremadu with the aim of illegally removing them from office.
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The plaintiff argued under Section 50(2) (c) of the Constitution, Saraki and Ekweremadu cannot be removed from office unless by a resolution of the Senate supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.
Justice Tsoho, in the judgment on Monday, declined to grant any of the many reliefs sought by the plaintiff, including the one for an order of perpetual injunction stopping any plan to remove Saraki and Ekweremadu except by resolution backed by two-third majority votes of the Senate.
The judge noted that although not all the 110 respondents contested the suit, but stated that e plaintiff failed to prove the case with cogent and credible evidence.
Justice Tsoho said: “The plaintiff’s suit must succeed on the strength of its evidence and not on the weakness of the defence of the respondents.”
The judge was of the view that the newspaper reports presented before the court as the evidence of alleged threats of attempts to remove both Saraki and Ekweremadu through unconstitutional means in August 2018 lacked probative/evidential value.
“In law, newspaper reports are not generally admissible as the fact of what is recorded in them by virtue of section 37 of the Evidence Act,” the judge ruled.
Justice Tsoho stated that newspaper reports could be admissible as evidence of publication of a particular piece but not as the truth of the fact recorded in them.
He noted that relying on newspaper reports as evidence of the truth of an event amounted to relying on hearsay evidence which lacked evidential value.
The judge added that, although the prayers sought by the plaintiff were declaratory in nature, the plaintiff must establish its entitlement to them by adducing credible evidence.
“Applying the laws aforestated, it is crystal clear that in its bid to establish its case, the plaintiff has not shown any credible evidence in its affidavit to persuade this court in anyway,” Justice Tsoho said.
He added that “the burden” on the plaintiff “is quite heavy in view of the fact that declaratory relief is not granted even on admission by the respondents where the plaintiffs fail to establish its claims.
“Accordingly, all the prayers sought cannot be granted for want of credible evidence. They are hereby refused and the plaintiff’s suit is struck out,” the judge said.
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