Justice A. T. Badamasi of a Kano High Court has adjourned the suit between the National Coordinator of Lawyers for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria, Mohammed Zubair; the House of Assembly, the Chairman of a seven-man committee probing the allegation, Baffa Babba Dan Agundi, and the state Attorney-General till December 6 for judgment.
Zubair had sued the defendants, seeking an order of interlocutory injunction to stop the House of Assembly and its agents from investigating the alleged $5 million kickback involving Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, counsel to the plaintiff, Nuraini Jimoh, argued that the Assembly has no powers to probe the criminal allegations against the governor.
According to him, the Assembly only has the powers to make laws, establish an anti-graft agency to probe such matters.
Justice Commissioner Ibrahim Muktar, who is also the third defendant in the matter, aligned with Jimoh.
He said: “By virtue of my office, my own is to follow the law. I have perused the application and I stand with the plaintiff. I adopt all the processes by the plaintiff, including his argument.”
The attorney-general urged the court to disregard the counter-affidavit filed by the first and second defendants.
He averred that “it is not safe for the court to rely on the entire affidavit” because the identity of the witness was not disclosed.
Citing Section 115 of the Evidence Act (2011), Muktar insisted that the affidavit lacked credibility.
The commissioner also averred that “coming back to the main issue – whether the state House of Assembly has the powers to investigate criminal allegations – no power under Section 128 (1) is given to the House of
He added: “Section 128 (2) of the Constitution gives the House of Assembly the powers to expose corruption and not the powers to engage in criminal investigation, which was being conducted by the House of Assembly.”
Muktar cited Exhibit One (letter of invitation by the Assembly to the governor) where the phrase “bribery allegation” was used, insisting that “bribery” can only be attributed to a crime.
According to him, Section 128 (1) of the Constitution gives the Assembly the powers to make laws establishing anti-corruption agencies and not the powers to investigate criminal cases.
He added: “It was a criminal trial or investigation that was being conducted by the House of Assembly. This is wrong because it is the statutory responsibility of the police to investigate crime.
“Members of the House of Assembly are not experts in criminal investigation; they are not trained investigators. I submit that the House of Assembly has no capacity, whatsoever, to conduct criminal investigation because Section 36 (5) and Section 208 of the Constitution give the police the powers to investigate crime. So, Section 128 of the Constitution should not be in isolation on the issue before the court.”
The counsel to the defendants, Mohammed Waziri, told the court that the House of Assembly investigative panel engaged in a fact-finding mission, and not an investigation of criminal allegation.
He said: “I want to emphasise that there is no doubt that what the House of Assembly is investigating is allegation of crime against the governor. By doing so, they are exercising their powers to expose crime. It is now for the judge to differentiate between crime and corruption.”