Budget Padding: Court Adjourns Abdulmumin Jibrin’s Suit Indefinitely

Effort by the suspended former Chairman House Committee on Appropriation and Budget, Abdulmumi Jibrin, who represents Bebeji/Kiru, Kano State, to nullify his suspension suffered a set back Wednesday.
This is as a Federal High Court in Abuja, adjourned the matter indefinitely following a stay of proceedings application filed by counsel to Nicholas Ossai, Chairman House Committee on Ethics and Privileges that recommended his suspension.
Jibrin was suspended for six months for accusing Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara and his principal officers of padding the 2015 budget to the tune of billions of naira.
Ossai Committee had earlier applied to the court for joinder to the suit filed by Jibrin to quash his suspension, but the application for joinder was refused by Justice John Tsoho on grounds that he was not necessarily a party to the suit filed by Jibrin.
Dissatisfied, Ossai had appealed the ruling.
When the matter came up Wednesday, counsel to Ossai, Hakeem Kashim, drew the attention of the court to the fact that an appeal has been entered in the Court of Appeal.
He said proceedings of the court including the record were already transmitted to the upper court.
Kazeem said: “The record of last sitting was transmitted to court of Appeal. Motion of stay of proceedings was also filed at the Court of Appeal, and affidavit verifying the notice and the record are at the Court of Appeal”
He submitted that based on that the high court lacked jurisdiction to continue with the matter.
Counsel to Jibrin, Femi Falana, said the application was an attempt to stall the matter.
“It is a trite law that two applications can’t be pending at two different courts at the same time.
“The entry of record of Appeal Court can’t rob this court of jurisdiction. This stay of proceedings is filed by a stranger. It is only the plaintiff or respondent that have rights of Appeal.
“Now that he has gone to Appeal Court he has no need to cone back and argue stay of proceedings. He has no locu standi to apply for a stay of proceedings
“A transpasser can’t just walk in and ask for stay of proceedings. He is not a party to this case he can only ask the Court of Appeal to be joined as a party.
“I plead sir refuse the application for the interest of justice and allow the case to go ahead”, Falana pleaded.
Counsel to the Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara – defendant in matter – Chukwuemeka Onuoha, aligned himself with Ossai’s counsel, adding once a matter has been entered in the Court of Appeal the lower court has to stay proceedings, it ceases jurisdiction.
Onuoha said: “However, we have also been served with the record of Appeal. We have been served with motion on notice from the Court of Appeal wherein the applicant seeks stay of proceedings
“We have been also served with an affidavit of record of entry at the court of Appeal.
“In as much as we want the court to hear this case, the attitude of the court has been that if the matter is pending in higher court, a lower court stays jurisdiction. We are constrained”, he summed.
Justice Tsoho in a short ruling said caution must be exercised in a situation like this, noting otherwise preempting measures could harm the applicant.
“The court has the duty to exercise caution not to take preemptive measures. If the appeal succeeds, they will be coming back to be joined as party. Therefore no need to pull the carpet under their feet. “Proceedings on the matter will therefore be suspended until that time the Appeal Court gives an order”, Tsoho ruled.
The House of Representatives on September 26, 2016, suspended Jibrin, over his allegations that 2016 budget was padded, for 180 legislative days.
The House seats three days in a week and this consequently means that Jibrin’s suspension would last more than a year.
In a motion recommended by House Ethics Committee chairman, Nicholas Ossai, and adopted by the whole House, Jibrin was banned from holding any position of responsibility for the span of the current National Assembly.
Jibrin began stirring what experts now described as one Africa’s biggest parliamentary scandals in recent memory on July 21,2016, a day after he was eased out as chairman of the powerful Committee on Appropriation.
Although the House was taking a two-month recess at the time, Jibrin remained resolute in his quest to “end the massive corruption in the House.”

Author: News Editor

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