Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja, has denied granting injunction restraining the House of Representatives Committee on Public Account from probing Diezani Alison-Madueke, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, over the alleged spending of N10 billion on a chartered jet.
Speaking to journalist on Tuesday in Abuja, Mohammed said he had, on April 14, directed the respondents (National Assembly and House of Representatives) to appear before the court on the April 17 and prove why the orders of interim injunction being sought by the applicants’ motion on notice filed on April 11 should not be granted.
According to him, when the case came up on April 17, the House of Representatives was not represented and the court ordered that they should be served with all the court processes on the matter and had adjourned the matter to Tuesday for hearing of the exparte motion.
Mohammed pleaded with journalists to always cross-check facts before publishing.
Meanwhile, Etigwe Uwa, counsel to the minister and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had told the court that he quickly sent mails to some reporters, explaining to them the true position of the court on the exparte motion.
Uwa alleged that the report started from a press conference set up by the chairman of House Committee on Media and Publicity, Honourable Zakari Mohammed, who claimed that the court had stopped the House from going ahead with the probe, dealleging that it was a ploy to frustrate the House.
“Since the statement emanated from the National Assembly, I will adjourn the matter, let the House come and clear the air on the issue” Mahammed said. “As far as I am concerned and as the judge hearing this case, no such order restraining the House of Representatives and its committees from proceeding with the investigation of the allegation preferred against the Minister of Petroleum Resources.
“On April 14, the plaintiffs counsel argued an exparte motion seeking to restrain the House from investigating his client and the court ordered in a ruling that the House of Representatives should appear on April 17 to prove why the order should not be granted.
“On April 17, the plaintiffs informed the court that the court process could not be served on the respondents, because of the Nyanya bomb blast and the court slated Tuesday to hear the submissions of the respondents on the motion” he said.
Mohammed noted that as he adjourned the case to May 5, the plaintiffs are by the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/295/2014, challenging the powers of the National Assembly to investigate their alleged spending of about N10 billion in chartering a private jet for the minister.
It would be recalled that the House last month adopted a motion brought before it by Honourable Samuel Babatunde Adejare, who alleged that the Alison-Madueke, recklessly spent about N10 billion on hiring private jet for both official and personal use.
The house directed the Public Accounts Committee to investigate the allegation, saying it was a violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
“This colossal waste is currently estimated at N10billion, which includes the payment of allowances to the crew for the trips, hanger packing and rent, based on the lease agreement” Adejare said.