26 June 2014, Abuja – A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Abubakar, not to heed any directive by the National Assembly for the arrest of the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, with respect to the N10bn jet scandal probe.
Officials of the ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation are also protected by the court order.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole made the order while ruling on an application by Alison-Madueke’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), who had sought the order in view of the threat by the House of Representatives to order the arrest of the minister and other officials.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court in Abuja had also on June 19, made an order restraining the House of Representatives from going ahead with the probe.
The order of the court is to subsist till July 3 when the court will hear a separate suit which was filed by Alison-Madueke along with her ministry and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Justice Mohammed gave the order ahead of the plan by the House Committee on Public Accounts to carry out the probe on June 25, 26 and 27, 2014.
In the second suit, seeking an order stopping the House of Representatives from going ahead with the suit, Ozekhome told Justice Kolawole on Wednesday that the lawmakers had threatened to arrest Alison-Madueke and others.
Counsel for the National Assembly and the House of Representatives were not in court on Wednesday.
Ozekhome said the lawmakers threatened to invoke the provision of section 88 of the Constitution to order the arrest of the minister and others invited, should they decline to honour the invitation to appear before the House of Reps on June 25, 26 and 27.
Justice Kolawole refused to grant any interim order sought by Ozekhome to stop the House of Representatives from going ahead with the probe.
He said such order was nor necessary since the lawmakers had been served with the processes and as such were aware of the existence of the case.
But the judge made an order restraining the Inspector-General of Police from arresting the applicants, and directed that the applicants served a Certified True copy of the enrolled orders contained in his ruling on him (the IGP).
The judge said, “What I can do in order to meet the anxiety of the applicants’ counsel is by making a recourse to the provision of Order 56 Rule1 of the Federal High Court’s Rules 2009 in directing the applicants to ensure that a certified true copy of the enrolment of this ruling and orders contained therein is served on the Inspector General of Police, who although is not a party to this action, but whose instrumentality the respondents required in order to effectuate the threat to order for the arrest of the applicants.
“Once the CTC of this ruling is served on the IGP, as I have directed, the IGP, also being a creation of the Constitution, will not lend his machinery in aid of the respondents to defy the court’s proceedings and to contravene the Constitution.
“The implication of this order is that the IGP shall not accede to any legislative order which the respondents may make to direct the arrest of the applicants which, orders, in the light of the proceedings pending in this court, will constitute unmitigated affront to the authority of the court to freely adjudicate on disputes referred to it without any of the parties, whether an arm of government, should hold the court to ransom.”
– The Punch