The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has halted moves by the House of Representatives to investigate the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, over the allegation that she spent N10 billion on chartering a jet.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed, who ruled on a joint suit filed by the Petroleum Minister and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), declared as invalid, two separate summons issued to the plaintiffs by the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Reps, which requested that the minister and the NNPC appear before it to defend allegations of financial recklessness against them.
According to him, the summons were struck out because no evidence was adduced before the court to show that the proposed investigation was contained in a resolution of the House, which he said ought to have been published in the journal of the National Assembly or the official gazette of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Justice Mohammed however said his ruling “should not send a wrong signal to the public that the House of Reps does not have powers to summon any public officer for the sake of accountability and transparency in the process of governance.”
In his ruling, the judge held that the House of Reps failed to fulfill the condition precedents for the commencement of such probe as stipulated in sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 constitution, as amended.
“I am, therefore, bound to set aside the letters of invitation issued to the plaintiffs, which were marked as exhibits KA-1 and KA-2,” he said.
“I would not have hesitated to dismiss this suit and order them to submit themselves to the investigative panel,” he said, if not that the Reps failed to fulfill the required conditions.
Justice Mohammed stressed that the House of Reps is constitutionally empowered to summon any person in Nigeria, regardless of position or status. The House, he added, also has the constitutional powers to compel the attendance of such person, in as much the Reps follow due process in exercising such powers.