Presidential Panel on Recovery of Public Property Wants Court to Stop House of Reps’ Probe of Its Activities

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPRPP) on Monday approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking to stop its probe by the House of Representatives.
House of Representatives had indicated interest to probe the Chief Okoi Obono-Obla-led panel after it indicted Senate Deputy Presidenti, Ike Ekwueremadu of undeclared assets running into millions of naira both in Nigeria and three other foreign countries.
The House of Representatives in its resolution of March 22, 2018, set up an adhoc committee to investigate the legality of the special investigation panel on recovery of public property.
The legislators had in a letter also requested the Chairman of the panel, Obono-Obla to provide certain documents regarding the panel to the House C.ommittee
The panel in the suit marked :FHC/ABJ/CS/374/2018 is seeking “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their officers, agents, servants, privies or otherwise howsoever from further taking any step or doing anything at all against the plaintiffs in respect of the resolution passed by it on Thursday 22nd March, 2018”.
The suit filed on behalf of the panel and its Chairman, Obono-Obla has the House of Representatives and its Adhoc Committee on Activities of the Special Investigative Panel as defendants.
The suit was brought pursuant to order 3 rules 6 and 7 of the Federal High Court ( Civil Procedure) Rules 2009.
In the originating summons filed on their behalf by Festus Keyamo (SAN), the plaintiffs posed the following questions before the court for determination: “Whether the resolution passed by the 1st defendant on Thursday 22nd March, 2018 to set up the 2nd defendant to investigate the “Modus Operandi” of the 1st plaintiff is not tantamount to the exercise of executive/supervisory powers over the plaintiffs.
“Whether the resolution passed by the 1st defendant on Thursday 22nd March, 2018 to set up the 2nd defendant to investigate the “Legality” of the 1st plaintiff is not tantamount to the exercise of judicial powers over the plaintiffs.
The plaintiffs said assuming the answer to the first question is the the positive, wants the court to determine whether by the provisions of section 88 of the 1999 constitution as amended the defendants are legally empowered to exercise executive/supervisory powers over them by resolving: “To investigate the “Modus Operandi” of the plaintiffs to “ensure that it is in tandem with the law and that it conforms to best practices”.
The plaintiffs are further asking court’s view of the provisions of section 88 of the 1999,whether the letter written to the 2nd plaintiff on March 28, 2018, compelling him to forward certain documents listed in the said letter to the 2nd defendant is not illegal, null and void, especially in view of section 88 of the 1999 constitution.
The plaintiffs therefore want the court to declare that the decision of the House of Representatives to investigate the activities of the panel is tantamount to the exercise of executive/supervisory powers over the plaintiffs.
“A declaration that the resolution passed by the 1st defendant on Thursday 22nd March, 2018 to set up the 2nd defendant to investigate the “Legality” of the 1st plaintiff is tantamount to the exercise of judicial powers over the plaintiffs.
“A declaration that by the provisions of section 88 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) the defendants are not legally empowered to exercise executive/supervisory powers over the plaintiffs by resolving to investigate the “Modus Operandi of the plaintiffs to “ensure that it is in tandem with the law and that it conforms to best practices”.
“A declaration that the letter written to the 2nd plaintiff on March 28, 2018, compelling him to forward certain documents listed in the said letter to the 2nd defendant is illegal, null and void, especially in view of section 88 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( as amended).”
The originating summons was supported by a six paragraph affidavit deposed to by one Yohanna Shankuk, who averred that the 1st Plaintiff is a Panel constituted by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, pursuant to the Powers vested on the President by Section 1 of the Recovery of Public Property (Special Provisions) Act.
“That the 2nd Plaintiff is the Chairman of the 1st Plaintiff”.
According to the deponent, the laws upon which the 1st Plaintiff was set up, headed by the 2nd Plaintiff, has not been repealed.
While claiming that the 2nd Applicant received a letter from the 2nd Respondent on or about the 28th of March, 2018, he averred that the 2nd Plaintiff verily believes that the Resolution contained in Exhibit B is beyond the constitutional powers of the Defendants/Respondents.
Shankuk in the affidavit submitted that, “The Applicants verily believe that if this court does not intervene in this matter, the Defendants/Respondents would wrongly proceed to exercise their powers under Sections 88 and 89(1) (c)(d) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“That the balance of convenience is in favour of a grant of this application as the Applicants cannot be adequately compensated in damages if the res is dissipated.
“That it is in the interest of justice for this Honourable court to grant the reliefs sought in this originating Summons.”

Author: News Editor

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