A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted a temporary order restraining the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and four others from probing Senator Bukola Saraki, the Senate President.
Justice Taiwo Taiwo, the presiding judge, granted the order after listening to the Senate President’s ex parte application, as moved by his lawyer, Sunday Onubi.
Senator Saraki had last Friday filed two separate fundamental rights enforcement suits before the court to challenge the decision of the EFCC to seize his houses in Lagos State.
The suit comes just as the EFCC announced that it was re-opening its investigation into the activities of the Kwara federal lawmaker while he served as governor of Kwara State between 2003 to 2011.
Senator Saraki had also filed two separate suits, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/507/2019 and FHC/ABJ/CS/508/2019, in which Justice Tawio also delivered similar rulings concerning the probe.
The other parties restrained by the court order includes the Department of State Services (DSS); Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation; Mohammed Adamu, acting Inspector General of Police; and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
Justice Tawio, in his ruling, asked the respondents to retain status quo pending the determination of the substantive suit brought before the court by the applicant (Saraki).
The judge held that order suspending the probe is to avoid a situation of fait accompli, adding that the order was in line with a settled principled of law that once a suit was filed, all parties involved must refrain from taking any action that would make it inconsequential.
Justice Tawio ruled:
There is no doubt that the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 is a special proceeding with its stated rules and procedure.
“By the provision of Order 4(3) of the Fundamental Rights Civil Procedure Rules, 2009, the court may, if satisfied that the applicant may be caused hardship before the service of an application where liberty or life of the applicant is involved hear the application ex parte upon such interim reliefs as the justice of the application may demand.
“There is no doubt that in making the interim reliefs or orders, the court is guided even in its exercise of its discretion judicially and judiciously applied by the law and statues.
“Here comes in the rules and of course, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
He added, “I am of the view, after due consideration of the aforesaid averment, that this court ought to make the order being sought by the applicant pending the hearing and determination of the originating motion on notice.
“To do otherwise and not to restrain the respondents by asking them not to stay action will result in the court being faced with a fait accompli.”
The judge directed Senator Saraki to serve the court processes on the six respondents and ordered them to file their response within five days of being served.
Justice Tawio adjourned further hearing till May 23, 2019.