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NASS lacks powers to investigate criminal allegation – Court

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NASS lacks powers to investigate criminal allegation – Court

 

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court in Abuja has declared that the National Assembly lacked the powers to investigate criminal allegations and absolve or indict any individual of those allegations.

The judge said that by virtue of Section 88 of the Constitution or any other extant legislation, the National Assembly was not constitutionally or legally empowered to carry out such act.

Delivering judgement in a suit filed by rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Festus Keyamo, against the House of Representatives and two others, Justice Kolawole held that the National Assembly was not constitutionally or legally empowered to make recommendations or pass any resolution concerning the conduct of any person.

“The House of Representative’s Resolution dated 3rd of March, 2009 to the effect that certain annexures attached to Mr. Keyamo’s letter dated October 19, 2008 and addressed to Hon. Dimeji Bankole (who was then the Honourable Speaker, House of Representatives, Federal Republic of Nigeria), are faulty and baseless, to the extent that it absolves certain of its principal officers and management from criminal allegations made against them, and accuses Mr. Keyamo of unwholesome conduct, is null, void and of no effect.

“By virtue of Section 88 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended and any other extant law, the National Assembly is not constitutionally or legally empowered to make recommendations or pass any resolution concerning the conduct of any person, including Mr. Keyamo, who is not charged or intended to be charged, with the duty of or responsibility for executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly and disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly.

 

“The Resolution of the House of Representatives dated 3rd of March, 2009 especially as it concerns the conduct of Mr. Keyamo is null and void.

 

“The Nigerian Police and the Department of State Services are restrained from compulsorily giving effect to the resolution of the House of Representatives dated 3rd of March, 2009 as it concerns Mr. Keyamo”, the judge held.

 

Keyamo had sometimes in 2009 dragged the House of Representatives, police and the Department of State Services (DSS) to challenge a resolution passed by the lawmakers calling on security operatives to investigate him after he petitioned the then Speaker, Dimeji Bankole, over fraud allegations in the purchase of cars for members.

 

A national magazine, Newswatch, had on 22nd of September, 2008, carried a story titled “Dirty Car deal”, which alleged that there were fraudulent dealings by the leadership and management of the House of Representatives in the purchase of 380 units of 407 Peugeot cars for its members from Peugeot Automobile Nigeria Limited.

More than a month after the publication, when in the opinion of Keyamo, there was no satisfactory answer to the said allegations leveled in the story by the leadership of the House of Representatives, the lawyer wrote a letter dated October 19, 2008 to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, demanding for an open response to the said allegations.

Rather than replying the petition, Bankole referred the letter to the House Committee on Ethics and Privileges following which the lawyer was invited.

The committee later submitted its report and on March 3, 2009, the House of Representatives sitting in plenary and subsequently in a committee of the whole house faulted Keyamo’s letter saying it was faulty and baseless.

 

NewTelegraph 

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