Court Declines FG Panel’s Request to Stop House’s Probe on Its Legality

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused to stop the probe by the House of Representatives of the legality of the Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property.

The presidential panel had through a counsel from Festus Keyamo’s Chambers, Mr. John Aineto, prayed Justice Tsoho to grant an interlocutory injunction (temporary order) to stop the House from beaming its searchlight on the legality of its establishment and the functions assigned to it.

But delivering ruling on the motion, Justice Tsoho ordered the Muhammadu Buhari panel to put the House of Representatives on notice on the pendency of the case and for the two parties to face each other before him to present their cases.

While turning down the request to stop investigation into the presidential panel, the court held that justice will not be manifestly done until the suit before him is heard on merit.

The contention of the presidential panel, headed by Mr. Okoi Obono Obla was that the House of Representatives lacked the constitutional powers to look into its legality.

The panel claimed that having been constituted by President Buhari and assigned functions to discharge, the House cannot under any law seek to challenge its functions.

The House of Representatives had on March 22 passed a resolution seeking to authenticate the legality of the presidential panel under the 1999 constitution.

This was followed with a letter to the panel, requesting the instrument or gazette establishing it, its annual budgetary allocation, the membership and composition of the panel along with their curriculum vitae and certificates.

The House also mandated the panel to forward to it, operations and actions of the panel since inception, list of investigations so far carried out, nominal roll of its staff and the list of all the seizures effected from inception.

Reacting, the panel approached the court for an order of interlocutory injunction to stop the lawmakers from going ahead to investigate or probe its legality.

Justice Tsoho however refused to grant the order of the interlocutory injunction against the House and instead, directed the panel to put the House on notice to appear before it on June 25.

The House will on the adjourned date show cause why the request of the presidential panel should not be granted by the court.

Justice Tsoho ordered that hearing notice be issued to the House to become aware of the pendency of the court action and to prepare to join issues on law with the panel.