From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday ordered the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Danladi Yakubu Umar, to go and appear before the Nigerian Senate for a probe on allegations of misconduct brought against him in a public petition.
The court dismissed Umar’s suit instituted against the Senate and others seeking to stop them from investigating him on alleged public misconduct at Banex Plaza in Abuja on March 29th 2021.
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Justice Inyang Ekwo in a judgment in the suit held that the case of the CCT chairman lacked merit and had no cogent reason to stop the Senate from undertaking its constitutional functions.
Justice Ekwo held that sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 constitution under which the CCT boss sought to be protected by the court did not confer any protection or refuge on him.
The judge said that as a public officer administering law relating to the conduct of public officers, Umar has no reason to institute the suit to stop senate from investigating a public petition seeking justice on moral standard.
The Judge also said that the Code of Conduct Bureau and Code of Conduct Tribunal Act 2010 are established by the Act of the National Assembly and as such, he is subject to investigation by the National Assembly.
Besides, the judge also said that section 2 of the Code of Conduct Bureau exposes Umar to investigation by the National Assembly than another Nigerian adding that it will be illogical for him to seek to stop Senate probe as doing so will give an impression that he is above the law.
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Justice Ekwo held that the declaratory reliefs sought by Umar for injunction against the Senate cannot be granted because the case the case lacked merit
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The CCT Chairman had in his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 671/2021, challenged the powers of the Senate and three others to investigate him in an alleged assault perpetrated against a security guard at Banex Plaza in Abuja.
The four defendants in the matter are the Senate, Senate President, Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions; and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF.
In the suit filed by his lawyer, Mr Sunday Edward, Umar had asked the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Senate, its members and agents from conducting or continuing to conduct investigations into the allegations of assault levelled against him via a petition submitted to the Senate.
Specifically, the plaintiff had wanted the court to determine whether the alleged case of assault which took place at Banex Plaza in Abuja on March 29, 2021, formed part of the matters the Senate is constitutionally empowered to investigate or police functions.
He had also asked it to determine whether the Senate and its Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions are competent to investigate or invite him in relation to the investigation of the allegation of assault and whether the powers of the Senate to conduct the investigation are not governed or subject to the provision of sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution.
The plaintiff had also asked the court to declare that the purported case of assault that took place on March 29, 2021, did not form part of the matters the Senate is constitutionally empowered to investigate.
He further asked the court to declare that the Senate’s moves to conduct an investigation in the matter is unconstitutional and it amounts to unwarranted usurpation of the functions of the police and of the court of competent jurisdiction.
But counsel to the Senate, Kafayat Suleyman had urged the court to dismiss the suit, insisting that the Senate has power under Section 88 of the Constitution to investigate alleged misconduct by any public officer.