A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday granted a request by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to challenge the legality of the move by the
House of Representatives to hold a public hearing over alleged spending of N10 billion on chartered jet by the minister.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed granted the request on Monday while ruling on an application by the minister and NNPC to amend their originating summons in the case.
The court said it granted the request because it was innocuous and did not, in any way, change the character of the claims in the original originating summons filed by the plaintiffs.
Besides, the court held that the request to amend was the first in the case and did not amount to abuse.
Specifically, the court held that it would pronounce, as amended, on whether or not the proposed investigative public hearing by the House of Representatives is not illegal, null and void for failure to comply with the requirement of section 88 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) requiring that the resolutions in respect of such public hearings or investigations be published in the prescribed manner.
The court however refused a separate request by Alison-Madueke and the NNPC to further amend the suit to include seeking the pronouncement of the court on whether or not the powers conferred on the National Assembly in Section 88 extend to holding hearings on petitions written against agencies of government or carrying out oversight visits by relevant committees of the two chambers to conduct examination in relation to nominal roll, budget progress reports, among others.
The court said the prayer, if granted, would change the character of claims in the original motion before the court.
The court had earlier urged the parties to maintain status quo.
Alison-Madueke and NNPC had filed an originating summon in court seeking among others, “a declaration that having regard to the provisions of Sections 88 and 89 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and Section 8 of the Legislatives Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act Cap. L12 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010, the respondents or any of their committees are precluded from summoning the applicants 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for the purpose of giving evidence and or producing any papers, books, records or other documents which relate to the unpublished official records of the applicants without the consent of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria first and obtained by the respondents or their committees.
“A declaration that having regard to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution, as altered, especially Sections 88 and 89 thereof, the respondents acted ultra vires their powers and functions by sending out invitations to the applicants and agencies under their control when such invitations are not for the purpose of enabling the respondents make laws or correct any defect in existing laws.”
They asked the court to quash the invitation and declare that the House of Representatives lacked the powers to invite them when such invitations were not for the purpose of enabling the Respondents make laws or correct any defect in existing laws.