An Abuja Federal High Court on Thursday restrained the National Assembly from proceeding with its proposed probe of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The House of Representatives had summoned the minister to appear before its committee investigating her alleged spending of N10 billion on a chartered aircraft.
The minister and the NNPC, first and second plaintiffs, however, filed a suit seeking to stop the lawmakers from embarking on the probe.
The plaintiffs had joined the Senate and the House of Representatives as co-defendants.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in his ruling, ordered all parties to maintain the status quo pending the hearing of the substantive suit.
He said that the committee had no genuine reason to go ahead with the proposed probe, being aware of the pending suit seeking order to restrain it from doing the investigation.
The judge said that the filing of the suit did not amount to usurping the legislative powers of the National Assembly as claimed by the committee.
“Section 6 (1), 6(6) (b) of the Constitution gives the court inherent powers of interpretation and determination of disputes between government and individuals and within arms of government.
“I hereby direct parties to maintain the status quo in this matter until the next adjourned date”, the judge ordered.
It would be recalled that the House Committee on Public Accounts had planned to carry out the probe on June 25, 26 and 27.
The counsel to the plaintiffs, Etigwe Uwa, had earlier informed the court of his application, praying the court to grant a preservative order pending the hearing of the suit.
Mr. Uwa said that the House Committee on Public Accounts, in its letter dated May 23, inviting the minister for the probe was tantamount to disrespect of the court.
He argued in the originating summons that the National Assembly lacked the power to summon the minister without the consent of the president.
The counsel to the lawmakers, Aminu Sadauki, urged the court to refuse the application for an interim order.
Mr. Sadauki argued that it would amount to granting the relief sought by the plaintiffs in their substantive suit.
Also, the Senate counsel, Obasi Nwabueze, had said that he was not aware of the letter inviting the plaintiffs to appear before the house committee on the stipulated dates.
Mr. Nwabueze had, therefore, urged the court to apply its discretion on the issue.
Justice Mohammed adjourned hearing in the case until July 3.