An FCT High Court in Jabi has suspended its judgment in a fundamental human rights suit filed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris against the Nigerian Senate, its president, Bukola Saraki and eight others.
The court had on December 4th fixed Tuesday for judgment in the case; however, an application by the respondents heard and determined by the court put the final determination of the suit on hold.
At the resumed hearing, counsel for the respondents, Barrister Abdul Muhammed told the court that the motion was filed seeking to set aside the proceedings in the suit and for the court to direct the respondents to enter their appearance and filed their defence against the substantive suit.
He said since the application was an objection to the originating summons, it questioned the adjudicating jurisdiction of the court itself, adding that where the issue of service is involved, it must be resolved before the final determination of the substantive suit.
However, counsel to the IGP, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) objected to the application when he said since the matter was slated for judgment, all the application sought to do was to arrest the judgment of the court and that the Supreme Court had prohibited arrest of judgment.
He said the court should rely on the affidavit sworn to by the court bailiff to the effect that when the bailiff went to deliver the originating summons and hearing notice to the clerk of the senate, he (the bailiff) was locked up in a room and threatened with death before he was told to return back to the court with the documents was. He added that the court subsequently directed for a substituted means of service which was carried out.
Delivering ruling on the application, the trial judge, Justice Abba Bello Mohammed held that it is trite that the issue of service is fundamental to the jurisdiction of the court and where a court proceeded without jurisdiction, such decision reached by the court could be null and void.
He held that the affidavit attached to the application of the respondents, which was not controverted by the IGP with a counter-affidavit, said that the respondents were not aware of the matter until they read in the newspaper that the matter had been fixed for judgment.
He further held that the respondents through the affidavit also stated that they were only able to get the proceedings of the case on January 16, 2018 after they had seen the reportage on the newspaper, and that they are desirous to enter their defence.
Justice Mohammed held that the court was inclined to grant the application of the respondents based on the facts in its affidavit in order to give the court the room to hear from both sides before delivering its judgment.
The matter was thereafter adjourned to February 1 for the respondents to enter their defence.
IGP Idris had approached the court for the enforcement of his fundamental rights and breach of right to fair hearing by the respondents in the matter on November 8, seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from infringing on his rights, among other reliefs.
Apart from the Senate president and the Senate, other respondents in the matter are Senators Isah Hamma Misau; Francis Alimikhena; Binta Masi Garba and Suleiman Hunkuyi; Duro Faseyi Samuel; Ogba Joseph Obinna; Nelson Effiong and Abdulaziz Nyako.
The IGP’s counsel had told the court that Senator Misau was on a vendetta mission and the only forum he could use was the body he belongs to (the Senate) submitting that he used his relationship with his colleagues to raise the allegations.
He added that this already predisposes that there cannot be a fair hearing as the composition of the ad hoc committee cannot be impartial.
The counsel stated that Misau ought to have written petitions to anti-corruption agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
He said the applicant approached the court to enforce his fundamental rights because the Senate ad hoc committee threatened him with a warrant of arrest. He thereafter urged the court to grant the reliefs sought by the applicant.