You Lack Pow­ers to In­ves­ti­gate, In­dict Any­one, Court Tells N’As­sem­bly

THISDAY - - NEWSXTRA -

Alex Enumah

A Fed­eral High Court sit­ting in Abuja has de­clared that the Na­tional As­sem­bly lacks the pow­ers to carry out crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion with the in­tent of in­dict­ing or ab­solv­ing any­one from the al­le­ga­tions he or she is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated.

Jus­tice Gabriel Ko­la­wole made the dec­la­ra­tion last Tues­day, while de­liv­er­ing judg­ment in a suit filed by Fes­tus Keyamo chal­leng­ing the pow­ers of the law­mak­ers to in­ves­ti­gate him and rec­om­mend for his in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the po­lice over crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions made against the then Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

De­liv­er­ing judg­ment in the suit marked FHC/ ABJ/CS/163/2009), the court de­clared as null and void, the prac­tice of the Na­tional As­sem­bly (in this case the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives), in­ves­ti­gat­ing crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions against in­di­vid­u­als and pro­duc­ing re­ports/res­o­lu­tions in­dict­ing or ab­solv­ing those in­di­vid­u­als or di­rect­ing law en­force­ment agents or the ex­ec­u­tive as to what should be done.

Jus­tice Ko­la­wole agreed with the plain­tiff that by virtue of Sec­tion 88 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion, as amended, or any other ex­tant leg­is­la­tion, the Na­tional As­sem­bly is not con­sti­tu­tion­ally or legally em­pow­ered to in­ves­ti­gate crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions and ab­solve or in­dict any in­di­vid­ual of those al­le­ga­tions.

In ad­di­tion, the court held, “that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s Res­o­lu­tion dated March 3, 2009 to the ef­fect that cer­tain an­nex­ures at­tached to Fes­tus Keyamo’s let­ter dated Oc­to­ber 19, 2008 and ad­dressed to Hon. Dimeji Bankole (who was then the Speaker, House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Fed­eral Repub­lic of Nige­ria), are faulty and base­less, to the ex­tent that it ab­solves cer­tain of its prin­ci­pal of­fi­cers and man­age­ment from crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions made against them, and ac­cuses Keyamo of un­whole­some con­duct, is null, void and of no ef­fect.

“That by virtue of Sec­tion 88 of the 1999 con­sti­tu­tion of Nige­ria as amended and any other ex­tant law, the Na­tional As­sem­bly is not con­sti­tu­tion­ally or legally em­pow­ered to make rec­om­men­da­tions or pass any res­o­lu­tion con­cern­ing the con­duct of any per­son, in­clud­ing Keyamo who is not charged or in­tended to be charged, with the duty of or re­spon­si­bil­ity for: Ex­e­cut­ing or ad­min­is­ter­ing laws en­acted by the Na­tional As­sem­bly and; Dis­burs­ing or ad­min­is­ter­ing mon­eys ap­pro­pri­ated or to be ap­pro­pri­ated by the Na­tional As­sem­bly.

Also de­clared as null and void is the res­o­lu­tion of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives dated March 3, 2009 es­pe­cially as it con­cerns the con­duct of Keyamo.

Con­se­quently, the court said the Nige­rian Po­lice and the Depart­ment of State Ser­vices (DSS) are re­strained from com­pul­so­rily giv­ing ef­fect to the Res­o­lu­tion of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives dated March 3, 2009 as it con­cerns Keyamo.

Keyamo had in the suit prayed the court to de­ter­mine whether by the pro­vi­sion of sec­tion 88 of the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion as amended, the Na­tional As­sem­bly has the pow­ers to in­ves­ti­gate crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions, ab­solve or in­dict any in­di­vid­ual per­sons of such al­le­ga­tions, and also com­pel or man­date any se­cu­rity agency to in­ves­ti­gate the plain­tiff or any other per­son.

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had on March 3, 2009, dur­ing Ple­nary re­solved, “That the com­mit­tee hav­ing found that Keyamo’s let­ter is faulty and base­less in its al­le­ga­tions, urge the House to pre­vail on the inspector-gen­eral of po­lice and/or other rel­e­vant se­cu­rity agen­cies to in­ves­ti­gate how the an­nex­ures/doc­u­ments at­tached to Keyamo’s let­ter were ob­tained.”

The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives then went ahead and “ab­solved” the then Speaker (Mr. Dimeji Bankole) of the crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him in the said pub­li­ca­tion for which Keyamo sought ex­pla­na­tions.

Keyamo be­lieved that the Res­o­lu­tion of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives ex­ceeded its pow­ers as pre­scribed by the 1999 Con­sti­tu­tion and other rel­e­vant laws.

He also be­lieved that the Nige­rian Po­lice and the Depart­ment of State Ser­vices were likely to act on the said Res­o­lu­tion un­der the mis­taken be­lief that the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives had the con­sti­tu­tional pow­ers to ‘pre­vail on’ them or man­date them to in­ves­ti­gate any al­le­ga­tion.

Fol­low­ing a pub­li­ca­tion on Septem­ber 22, 2008, by a Na­tional Magazine, Newswatch, ti­tled “Dirty Car deal”, which al­leged that there were fraud­u­lent deal­ings by the lead­er­ship and man­age­ment of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the pur­chase of 380 units of 407 Peu­geot cars for its mem­bers from Peu­geot Au­to­mo­bile Nige­ria Lim­ited, the plain­tiff wrote a let­ter dated Oc­to­ber 19, 2008 ad­dressed to the Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives de­mand­ing for an open response to the said al­le­ga­tions.

The then Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, in­stead of re­ply­ing the said let­ter, re­ferred the let­ter to House Com­mit­tee on Ethics and Priv­i­leges which he him­self con­sti­tuted.

Af­ter its in­ves­ti­ga­tion the law­mak­ers “ab­solved” the then Speaker (Mr. Dimeji Bankole) of the crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions lev­eled against him in the said pub­li­ca­tion for which Keyamo sought ex­pla­na­tions, prompt­ing him to ap­proach the court for de­ter­mi­na­tion of the pow­ers of the leg­is­la­tors in the said mat­ter.

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