The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed a suit filed by Senator Ahmad Muhammad Bulkachuwa, seeking an order restraining anti-graft agencies from inviting, interrogating or arresting him over what he said about influencing his wife’s judgement who was a former Court of Appeal President.
The court held that the lawmaker has no right to influence judgements of a judge.
There had been calls for Bulkachuwa’s arrest and prosecution after he publicly claimed that he influenced decisions of his wife while serving as President of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal.
THE WHISTLER reports that Senator Bulkachuwa had during the valedictory session of the 9th Assembly, said his wife, Justice Zainab, “accepted my encroachment, and extended her help to my colleagues.”
In the viral video clip on June 12, he said his wife assisted his colleagues at the National Assembly, as a serving judge.
“I look at faces in this chamber whom have come to me and sought for my help when my wife was the President of the Court of Appeal.
“And I must thank particularly, my wife, whose freedom and independence I encroached upon while she was in office, and she has been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment, and extended her help to my colleagues.
“I did my best and in most cases I succeeded,” Senator Bulkachuwa had said, while the then Senate President, Ahmed Lawan interjected him.
But in his originating summons before Justice Inyang Ekwo, Senator Bulkachuwa, through his lawyer, Mr. Donald Ayibiowu, stated that the leadership of the 9th Assembly did not allow him to “fully speak” during the valedictory session.
Ayibiowu claimed that his client’s political opponents are now twisting the development to malign his reputation and that of his family.
Moreso, Ayibiowu argued that in line with Section 1 of the Legislative Houses Powers and Privileges) Act 2017, only the Senate in session or any of its sub-committees has the disciplinary power to invite Bulkachuwa to answer any question relating to his conduct/utterances on the floor of the Nigerian Senate.
The plaintiff therefore asked the court to declare that he “is covered, privileged and protected by the parliamentary immunity as enshrined in Section 1 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017 and freedom of speech and expression made thereto is privileged.”
He also prayed the court to declare that without exhausting the internal disciplinary mechanism, recommendations and approval of the 9th House of Senate, no other law enforcement agent of the federal government including the defendants “can invite any member of the Senate for questioning/interview and or for any disciplinary purposes in relation to the plaintiff’s privileged inchoate expression/statement/speeches made on the floor of the Nigeria House of Senate at the valedictory session.”
The Attorney-General of the Federation, the Clerk of the National Assembly, State Security Service, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), and Nigeria Police Force, were listed as 1st to fifth defendants.
Amid the development, the retired justice had debunked the comments credited to her husband, saying she “never favoured any party” during her time as a judge.
But in his judgement on Tuesday, Justice Ekwo held that the most rational interpretation of the statement made by Bulkachuwa was that it is contrary to the law.
“The answer is simple, he influenced his wife, ” Ekwo said, adding this is an act of corruption.
Ekwo said the statement of the lawmaker is a confession of an irregular act that is subject to be investigated and prosecuted.
The judge said the plaintiff is liable to be arrested based on his statement, adding that the National Assembly is not a place to hide any person who has committed a crime involving influencing the administration of criminal justice.
“I hold that this case lacks merit and ought to be dismissed. The case is dismissed” Ekwo held.