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Jet probe: Court stops Police from arresting Diezani

By The Citizen

A Federal High Court in Abuja has directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) not to ac­cede to any request by the House of Representatives to arrest the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Die­zani Alison-Maduekwe, in respect of the N10 billion chartered jet probe.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole gave the directive while rul­ing on an application for an interim injunction moved by counsel to the minister and the ministry, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN).

The lawyer, who is chal­lenging the powers of the lower legislative chambers under Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution, had told the court that the House was bent on proceeding with the probe, even when it was aware of the pending matter in court.

Specifically, Ozekhome drew the attention of the judge to a letter by the Com­mittee on Public Accounts of the House dated June 23, 2014, directing his client to appear before them or risk a warrant of arrest.

He told the court that the committee in the letter in ref­erence, said it was aware of the case in court but vowed to proceed with the probe based on the advice of its le­gal adviser.

The constitutional lawyer, who described the actions of the lawmakers as shocking and an affront on the judi­ciary, urged the court for an interim injunction restrain­ing them from going ahead with the probe.

In his ruling, Justice Ko­lawale declined granting an interim order but directed that a copy of the ruling be served on the Inspector General of Police, so that he would not accede to the leg­islators' order to arrest the minister.

Justice Kolawole ex­plained that he turned down the request for injunction be­cause the statutory time giv­en to the House to respond to the suit had not elapsed.

He warned that if the House refused to comply with the legal principle of lis pendens, (pending lawsuit) the court would not hesitate to commence contempt pro­ceedings against them and declare any decision a nul­lity.

Justice Kolawole said a party, who was aware of a pending matter in court but took further steps, risked contempt charge.

He said just as the legis­lators had powers under the constitution to make laws for the good governance of the country, the court would not share its powers under Sec­tion 6 (6) of the constitution with any arm of government.

The case has been ad­journed till July 9, for hear­ing the motion for injunc­tion.