The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit instituted by Adamu Bulkachuwa to stop Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, ICPC, from investigating his confession of influencing his wife’s decision as a judge and the President of the Court of Appeal.
Mr Bulkachuwa, 83, and senator at the 9th National Assembly during the Parliament’s valedictory session in June admitted how he trampled on his wife, Zainab Bulkachuwa’s “freedom and independence” as president of the appellate court.
The lawmaker’s revelation drew condemnation from many Nigerians with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) calling for Mr Bulkachuwa’s investigation and prosecution.
Mr Bulkachuwa approached the court to bar the ICPC from investigating him after the anti-graft commission invited him for questioning concerning his startling revelation.
However, delivering judgement on the suit on Tuesday, the judge, Inyang Ekwo, said Mr Bulkachuwa’s case was unmeritorous.
The judge said Mr Bulkachuwa’s claim to parliamentary immunity “does not exist” as he ought to have weighed the implications of his statement on the Senate floor.
“It is the duty of every law-abiding citizen to assist and cooperate with law enforcement agencies in their quest to carry out their statutory function,” Mr Ekwo said.
“It is only where a law enforcement agency breaches the fundamental right of a citizen in the process of carrying out their statutory function, then a cause of action could be said to have arisen,” the judge explained before dismissing the suit Mr Bulkachuwa lodged against the ICPC, the Attorney-General, police and the National Assembly.
‘Bulkachuwa’s confession an illegal act’
The judge further described the plaintiff (Mr Bulkachuwa’s” speech on the floor of the Senate on 10 June, as a confession of an illegal act “and Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) cannot be invoked to cover such and I so hold.”
Mr Ekwo noted that “when a person confesses that he influenced a judicial officer to help his friends and colleagues, such a person has gone beyond the limit of freedom of speech that is reasonably covered and protected by the provision of Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“A person who has used the opportunity given to him by the constitution to express himself freely and uses the opportunity to expose his actions or conduct which the law of the land criminalises has unwittingly invited law enforcement agencies to question him,” the judge said.
Mr Bulkachuwa had begged the court to declare that he “is covered, privileged and protected by the parliamentary immunity as enshrined in Section 1 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017 and freedom of speech and expression made thereto is privileged.”
The former senator, who hails from Bauchi State and was elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) before losing his re-election bid, had prayed the court to declare that no other law enforcement agent of the federal government, including the ICPC, can invite any lawmaker for questioning based on their comments in parliament.
But the judge further said the clear words of Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) cannot be interpreted to mean that a person can say anything he likes.
“In a formal setting like that plenary session or committee proceedings of the Senate, It is not expected of a person who is privileged to voice any expression will utter words or express opinion or impart Ideas or gives’ Information that cannot be defended under the constitution.
“Upon studying the provision of Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), it Is my opinion, that the words uttered by the plaintiff on the floor of the Senate on Saturday, 10th June, 2023 was a confession of doing an act that is prohibited by law.”
In his damning remarks, Mr Bulkachuwa had said, “My wife, whose freedom and independence I encroached upon while (she) was in office, and she has been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment and extended her help to my colleagues,” said Mr Bulkachuwa, an All Progressives Congress (APC) stalwart, at a valedictory session of the 9th Senate on 10 June.
In the 41-second video clip of Mr Bulkachuwa’s revelation, the former Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, was seen interrupting Mr Bulkachuwa.
“Distinguished, I don’t think this is a good idea going this direction. It is not a good idea, please,” Mr Lawan retorted, trying to derail Mr Bulkachuwa from disclosing details of how he influenced his wife’s judgements.
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