Yakubu Dogara, speaker of the house of representatives, says some persons are “intimidating” the nation’s judiciary to “gag” the national assembly.
Dogara, who said this at plenary on Thursday, did not mention names of the persons.
He spoke on a motion raised by Razak Atunwa from Kwara state on the recent court judgement restraining the house from holding public hearing on the hijab controversy.
There has been a dispute between the Nigerian Law School and Amasa Firdaus, a law graduate, who was not called to bar on the grounds that she wore a hijab to the call to bar ceremony.
The matter was taken to the house of representatives and a public hearing was fixed for it.
A coalition of lawyers, however, filed a suit asking the federal high court in Abuja to stop the house from conducting the hearing — a prayer the court granted.
At the plenary, the lawmakers accused the judiciary of “crossing the line” regarding its constitutional role.
Dogara, on his part, said the court judgement infringes on the powers of the house and will not be tolerated.
“We know that Nigeria is not Banana Republic and operates on basic principles such as rule of law and separation of power, which states that none of the arms of government should gag the other,” he said.
“Just as we cannot gag the judiciary, we also expect same from them. We make laws and the constitution only empower them to interpret the laws.
“But for us to sit here and the judiciary tells us what we should consider and not consider and when to seat, then we are no longer practising democracy.”
He said with the way the judiciary is going, “nothing stops them (the judges) from coming tomorrow and saying the national assembly cannot seat”.
“I don’t think it is us that is intimidating the judiciary like is being alleged. It is some people that are intimidating them from somewhere else, to gag the national assembly,” he said.
“We have respected the judiciary a lot and we expect same from them. When the judiciary gets to the level they are now, that spells danger for our democracy. If they insist they must continue this way, we have to part ways.”
Alhassan Doguwa, chief whip of the house, also called on the lawmakers to “individually and collectively defend the integrity of the legislature” on the matter.
“The sovereignty of every nation lies in the people and we are the representatives of the people,” he said, adding: “If we don’t do the needful now that we are going into election, before you know it, out democracy will be in shambles,” he said.
“This house will not take this recklessness and nonsense from the judiciary because we are protected by the constitution.”
Thereafter, Dogara set up an ad-hoc committee to interface with the judiciary and look into the matter.