Court permits ICPC, DSS to investigate Senator Bulkachuwa’s statements about wife
Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed by Adamu Bulkachuwa seeking to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) from investigating him over the comment he made during the valedictory session of the 9th national assembly.
In a judgment on Tuesday, Inyang Ekwo, presiding judge, held that the suit lacked merit and ought to be dismissed.
As a legislator, Bulkachuwa, according to Justice Ekwo, should be aware of the implications of the statement he made on the Senate floor.
He contends that the plaintiff (Bulkachuwa) does not benefit from the legislative immunity that he asserts in this instance.
“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 said
Mr Bulkachuwa had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, the NASS clerk, State Security Service, ICPC and the Nigeria Police Force as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
The plaintiff asked 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.”
Additionally, he requested that the court rule that no law enforcement official of the Federal Government, including the defendants, may invite any senator for questioning or an interview before exhausting the internal disciplinary process, recommendations, and approval of the 9th House of Senate.
According to Justice Ekwo, Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution does not apply to the statement made by Bulkachuwa on the floor of the Debate on June 10.
“The provision is that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
According to the judge, 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-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.
“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.
“This is what the plaintiff did in this case.
“I therefore find that that the speech of the plaintiff on the floor of the Senate on June 10, was a confession of illegal act and Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) cannot be invoked to cover such and I so hold,” he declared.