Abuja - A Federal High Court in Abuja has been urged to dismiss a suit by Sen. Gilbert Nnaji (PDP-Enugu East), seeking to stop investigation into alleged forgery of Senate Standing Rules.
The Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase, sought the order on Tuesday while showing cause why Nnaji’s ex-parte application should not be granted,
Arase challenged the powers of the court to stop the police from continuing with the investigation.
David Abuo, the I-G’s counsel, argued that investigating the allegation of forgery in the Senate can only strengthen the integrity of the upper legislative house and its leadership.
Abuo also submitted that the Senate President Bukola Saraki, and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, do not enjoy constitutional immunity over criminal investigations.
The I-G’s counsel, therefore, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, as well as the locus standi of the plaintiff to file the action.
He said "No court has the power to stop the investigation powers of the Police or EFCC or any agency established, under our laws to investigate crimes where there is reasonable suspicion of commission of crime or ample evidence of commission of an offence by a suspect.”
He argued that the matter at hand raised issues of criminality and the police owed Nigerians the duty to unearth the truth behind the allegations of forgery.
Abuo contended that the plaintiff had not shown what he had suffered or lost in his suit, as he was neither the senate president nor deputy senate president or even an officer of the senate.
"The present Senate has not enacted any standing orders. As at the time of inauguration of this present senate, no standing orders had been made. Till date, no such standing orders have so far been made.
"The practice is that at inauguration, the incoming Senate uses the standing orders of the preceding Senate. The Immediate past senate did not amend the 2011 standing orders and the 2011 standing orders have not yet been amended.
"The so-called 2015 standing orders were never made nor passed by the immediate past Senate.
"The plaintiff knows that the present senate president was not in a position to have passed the 2015 Senate Standing Orders before his inauguration”, Abuo contended in the counter-affidavit.
Earlier, Peter Nwakolo, Nnaji’s counsel, said he needed time to respond to the I-G’s preliminary objections, and the application filed by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, seeking to join as an interested party.
Hunkuyi’s counsel, Mamman Usman (SAN), said he brought the application pursuant to orders 9 rule 15 (1); order 26 rules 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) rules 2009.
Also read: Senate Rule: Group calls for probe of alleged forgery
Hunkuyi submitted that as a member of the National Assembly and the initiator of the petition, he had sufficient interest in the suit to be joined as a 3rd defendant.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, in his ruling, declined to make any order granting the plaintiff’s ex-parte application. However, he noted that the police had not shown cause why the prayers should not be granted.
The judge also refrained from making any order for status quo to be maintained, saying it could be misinterpreted.
He adjourned the case till September 8, and transferred it to be heard by Justice Adeniyi Ademola, who is slated to take over from him as vacation judge.