The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday ordered the House of Representatives; its Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, and others from continuing a probe of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus over their last year’s statements on the presidential election appeal at the Supreme Court and Kogi State governorship election.
Justice Inynag Ekwo, in a judgment delivered on the suit filed by the PDP caucus leaders, held that the probe was unconstitutional as it was a violation of their rights to freedom of expression, and freedom of association.
The plaintiffs had filed their suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/68/2020 on January 27, 2020.
The House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics and Privileges had in November 2019 launched an investigation against the four lawmakers following allegations that they issued public statements in their capacities not recognised by the House, misleading the general public and causing confusion and disaffection in the House of Representatives.
But in his judgment yesterday, the judge held that the statements issued by the plaintiffs were released in their personal capacity as Nigerians and based on the roles assigned them by the PDP.
Justice Ekwo, therefore, declared “the investigation or further investigation of the plaintiffs by the 4th to 20th defendants on the basis of any action done or decision taken by them, including the press statements” published by them “within the ambit of their lawfully assigned party duties by the PDP” as illegal and unconstitutional, being in violation of the Plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and peaceful assembly.
He also issued an order of perpetual injunction, “restraining the 4th to 20th defendants (members of the House Privileges and Ethics Committee) or any other Committee of the House of Representatives/the House itself from investigating or further investigating the plaintiffs and/or taking any disciplinary decision/action against them including suspension or interfering/tampering with their legislative duties, responsibilities and/or entitlements as members of the House of Representatives, on the basis of any action done or decision taken by them, including the press statements.