Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said that the House of Representatives cannot investigate Abdulmunin Jibrin when judicial decision is pending on his matter.
He therefore called on Speaker Yakubu Dogara to stop the ongoing probe against Jibrin, former House Chairman on Appropriations.
According to Falana, the decision of the House to cause Ethics Committee and Privileges to investigate Jibrin contravenes order 9 rule 5 of the standing orders of the House of Representatives.
The human rights lawyer and Jibrin’s counsel stated this in a letter he wrote to the House dated September 23.
Part of the letter read, “As you are no doubt aware the decision of the house to cause the committee to investigate our client by the committee on ethics and privileges contravenes order 9 rule 5 of the standing orders of the house of representatives which provides that; reference shall not be made to any matter on which a judicial decision is pending, in such a way as might, in the speaker’s opinion, prejudice the interest of parties thereto.
“It is worthy of note that the house of representatives and by extension the national assembly had at no time departed from this rule by entertaining a case pending before a court of law in Nigeria.
“It is therefore worrisome and disturbing that you allowed a motion seeking to suspend our client from the floor of the house of representatives to be moved and adopted while there is a pending suit at the federal high court, Abuja filed by him, seeking among other things an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants or privies from further suspending and or attempting to suspend or remove the plaintiff from his position as a member of the house of representatives representing Kiru/Bebeji federal constituency of Kano state in suit no FHC/ABJ/50/5/2016 at the federal high court between Hon. Abdulmumin Jibrin and the house of representatives and 13 others.
“The originating processes in the said suit have been served on you and you have accordingly entered appearance to defend our client’s claims through your counsel, senator Ikechukwu Obiora and Co therefore, you will agree with us that your action in the circumstance is inconsistent with the practice and procedure of the house of representatives and long standing tradition of not entertaining any debate on a subject a matter that is sub-judice by virtue and provisions of order 9 rule 5 of the standing orders of the house of representatives.
“In the light of the foregoing, the decision of the house to refer our client to the house committee on ethics and privileges on a subject matter that is sub-judice is a clear breach of his rights and privileges as a member of the house of representatives.
“We have no doubt that you would use your good office to suspend the sittings of the committee on ethics and privileges so as to prevent the committee members and the entire house from engaging in contempt of court.
“It is hoped that you will not compel us to embark on contempt proceedings in respect of this matter.”
Jibrin failed to appear before the Ethics and Privileges summon on Friday. The committee will again meet on Monday and he is expected to appear before it to answer on alleged breach of lawmakers’ privileges.
By Ebere Ndukwu …
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