Thursday, August 18, 2016

Budget padding: Court declines to hear Jibrin’s case

The case instituted by the former Chairman, Appropriation Committee,   House of Representatives, Abdulmumini  Jibrin   suffered a setback, yesterday, as the Federal High Court in Abuja, refused to hear the suit he filed for the enforcement of his fundamental human rights.
Jibrin had approached the court, last Friday, praying it to shield him from being arrested or interrogated over the allegations he levied against Speaker Yakubu Dogara and twelve other members that the 2016 budget was padded with about N40billion.
Counsels to Jibrin, led by Mohammed Abdulhamid and Chukwuma Nwachukwu, told the court that Jibrin’s colleagues were plotting to implicate and make him “a scapegoat” after he revealed how N40bn out of N100bn allocated to the entire National Assembly, was diverted.

Joined as respondents in the suit are the Speaker, his Deputy, Yusuf Lasun, the Chief Whip, Alhassan Doguwa and the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor. Others are the Nigeria Police, the Inspector General, the Commissioner of Police for the FCT and the Attorney-General of the Federation.
But yesterday, vacation judge, Justice Okon Abang, refused to hear the suit, saying that Jibrin ought to have obtained leave that would enable the court to hear his matter during vacation.  “A matter filed during court vacation is not heard as a matter of cause,” he said.
“The applicant is expected to apply and obtain the leave of court to have his matter heard during the court vacation in line with the provisions of Order 46 Rule 5 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
“This applicant did not do so. I do not have jurisdiction to even grant an adjournment of this suit.  It is expected that the applicant will do the needful to comply with the provisions of the rules of this court.”

In the suit, Jibrin also sought an order directing the respondents, jointly and severally, to pay him N500 million as aggravated and exemplary damages for violating his rights, and to also publish a written apology to him in two prominent national dailies.
He alleged that the respondents, did not only deny him the opportunity to substantiate his allegations before other members of the House in plenary, but had sponsored an invasion of his home where a seven-month old baby and a convalescing mother were greatly harassed and humiliated.
Jibrin asked for “an order of mandatory injunction restraining the Respondents whether by themselves, officers, servants, agents, privies or howsoever named from further attempting to arrest, arresting, intimidating, threatening or infringing on the Applicant’s fundamental rights except in strict compliance with the Constitution”.

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