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Judge Denies Stopping Reps Probe Of Oil Minister
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who was reported on Monday to have issued an order barring the House of Representatives committee on Public Accounts from investigating how the minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, spent N10 billion on charter of private jets for personal trips, has denied the report.
Reacting to the report on Tuesday at a hearing on the case filed by Alison-Madueke, the visibly upset judge said he made no such order.
“As far as I am concerned, and as the judge presiding over this case, no such order was made,” he said.
Setting the records straight, Justice Mohammed noted that he only ordered the defendants – the National Assembly and the House – to be put on notice after the plaintiffs’ counsel, Etigwe Uwa, moved an ex parte motion praying for an order of interim injunction to restrain the House from summoning the minister.
Uwa distanced himself from the misinformation, stressing that the press release containing the distorted information was circulated to media houses by the House of Representatives.
Justice Mohammed therefore summoned the House to appear before it on May 5 to “clear the air” on the issue.
The House committee chairman, Solomon Olamilekan, told journalists on Monday that a Federal High Court order issued on April 14, 2014 was delaying investigation into the alleged N10 billion spent on chartered aircraft by the minister.
“The nature of the court order is simple. They are just restraining us from carrying out our own investigation. I don’t know what they are afraid of that they have gone to court,” he said.
In the suit filed before the court, Alison-Madueke is asking for an order of interim injunction restraining the National Assembly and the House “whether by themselves, their members, committees or agents from summoning or directing the appearance of the applicants before any committee particularly the Public Accounts Committee set up by the House …”
The minister also asked the court to stop the committee from asking her or any official of the ministry or the NNPC to produce any papers, notes or other documents or give any evidence in line with a letter from the House dated March 26, 2014, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
She also wants an order of interim injunction restraining the National Assembly and the House from issuing a warrant to compel her attendance, or the attendance of any official of the ministry or the NNPC, with regard to the investigation.