The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, has said that the National Assembly cannot investigate her without first obtaining the consent of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Alison-Madueke, who is being probed by the House of Representatives over an allegation that she spent N10bn on a chartered aircraft, said the House Committee on Public Accounts lacked the power to even summon her to appear before it.
The minister and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation made the submissions in an affidavit they filed in support of a fresh suit before an Abuja Federal High Court to stop the probe.
The suit was filed last week but the affidavit was obtained by our correspondent on Sunday.
Alison-Madueke and the NNPC sued the Senate and the House of Representatives as the first and second respondents respectively. The suit is marked FHC/ABJ/CS/346/2014.
The supporting affidavit deposed to by Dominic Ezerioha, a lawyer in the law firm of Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), states, “That by law, the respondents are enjoined to seek the consent of the President before ordering the applicants to tender the official unpublished papers, books, and records.
“All the documents being requested of the applicants by the respondents are unpublished official records, and the respondents in all their invitations have never shown to the applicants, any such evidence of presidential consent, after numerous demands made by the applicants that they do so.”
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the fresh suit and the respondents have yet to file their defence.
Meanwhile, a similar suit which the minister had earlier filed, would come up for hearing before Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the FHC, Abuja on Monday (today).
Attached to the fresh suit are 41 exhibits, which are mainly letters of invitation served by the National Assembly on the NNPC and the office of the minister for the purpose of probing activities in the oil industry since 1999.
The House had asked the minister to appear before it to answer questions relating to the scandal on June 17.
But their law firm argued that the law required the Senate and the House of Representatives to first obtain the President’s consent before they could validly summon its clients. It cited Sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended and Section 8 of the Legislatives Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap. L12 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010, to back its claims.
The applicants are seeking ‘‘an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, servants, staff, committees, privies, proxies or any other persons howsoever called from summoning them or any agencies under their supervision or control, to appear before them for the purpose of giving evidence and/or producing any papers, books, records or other documents, which relate to the unpublished official records of the Applicants without the consent of the President..’’
They are therefore seeking among their 10 prayers before the court, “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents whether by themselves, servants, staff, committees, privies, proxies or any other persons howsoever called from summoning the applicants or any agencies under the applicants’ supervision or control, to appear before them for the purpose of giving evidence and/or producing any papers, books, records or other documents, which relate to the unpublished official records of the applicants without the consent of the President .”
The law firm is also urging the court to declare that the respondents lacked the power “to conduct investigation into allegations of fraud, corruption or other criminal activities said to have occurred in the agencies under the applicants’ supervision or control when such probe or investigation is not for the purpose of enabling the respondents make laws or correct any defect in existing laws.”