Justice Ahmed Mohammed of a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday refused to grant an order of interim injunction brought by the minister of petroleum resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, seeking to stop their probe over alleged spending of N10billon on chartered jet pending the determination of their suit.
Also, the House of Representatives, through its lawyer, A.B. Mahmud (SAN), apologised to the court for the press conference held by the House wherein it was stated that the court had stopped the probe of Diezani. Mahmud told the court that the originating summons was misconstrued for an order of the court. He further stated that the House assumed that the order had been granted. He tendered an unreserved apology of the House for the embarrassment the action had caused the court.
Justice Mohammed, accepted the apology and ordered the House to go back and clarify issues with the press.
Efforts made by the petroleum minister and the NNPC to put on hold their probe by the Public Accounts Committee of the House failed, as the court tactically turned down a request to stop the committee from probing them.
Though the lawyer to the minister’s lawyer Etigwe Uwah (SAN) made several attempts to persuade Justice Mohammed to issue an order in the interim to stop the House from going ahead, the judge refrained from making such order.
Uwah had told the court that, despite the fact that the matter was before the court and that all the parties had been served, the House was bent on continuing with the matter and had continued to issue
invitations to his client to appear.
He also told the court that a subsidiary of the NNPC Pipelines and Product Marketing Company (PPMC) was also summoned despite the pendency of the suit.
But Uwah’s bid to persuade the court to issue the interim order failed. According to Justice Mohammed, there was no motion before him to prevail on him to stop the probe since it had just been filed and not ripe for hearing.
On the subject matter of the suit, counsel to Diezani and NNPC Etigwe Uwah (SAN) prayed the court to grant his request for an order of interim injunction stopping the probe of his clients.
He said that, going by the directives of the speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, the House is set to begin the probe of her client on June 17.
He begged the court to stop the action as it would jeopardise the ongoing legal process.
Counsel to the House Mahmud said he would tell his client not to do anything that would jeopardise the legal process.
He added that, instead of granting the order, the court should accelerate the hearing.
The court ordered that the parties should exchange all their processes.
The minister had, through a motion ex-parte, approached the court, seeking an order stopping the House from probing her. She joined the National Assembly and the House of Representatives as defendants in the matter.
The court had refused the application but ordered the applicant to put the defendants on notice. It also ordered the defendants to appear in court to show cause why the applicant’s prayer should not be granted.
The case has been adjourned to June 19 for hearing.
Source: Leadership


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