Jet probe: Court stops Police from arresting Diezani
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.