Bulkachuwa loses bid to stop ICPC, DSS investigation over confessional Statement
A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, dismissed the suit filed by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa seeking to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from investigating him over the indictment comment he made during the valedictory session of the 9th National Assembly (NASS).
It was reported by RPTVBLOG that On June 8, 2022, at the valedictory session of the 9th NASS was marred by controversy when Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa made some confessional Statements about how his wife helped some of his colleagues as the president of the court of Appeal.
Bulkachuwa, husband of the immediate past President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa had said, “I look at faces in this chamber who have come to me and sought for my help when my wife was the President of the Court of Appeal.
“And I must thank particularly 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.”
“I did my best and in most cases I succeeded,” Senator Bulkachuwa had said, while the then Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, interjected and quickly stopped him from going further in the public confession of some shady deals.
Justice Inyang Eden Ekwo, in a judgement, held that the suit lacked merit and was outrightly dismissed.
The judge also held that granting Bulkachuwa’s request to stop the two agencies from investigating him would amount to granting him an immunity, which is beyond the scope of the law.
The court further held that immunity is a creature of the law and it could only be conferred by the law.
It added that the immunity enjoyed by the plaintiff is limited to proceedings before a court and not to an investigation conducted by the defendants in line with their statutory functions.
The judge also found merit in the objection to the suit by the two defendants and held that the suit was an abuse of court process.
Bulkachuwa had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the NASS Clerk, the State Security Service, ICPC and the Nigerian Police Force as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
The plaintiff asked the court to declare that the SSS, ICPC, and the police were barred from inviting him to appear before them as a result of the comment he made on the floor of the Senate.
He urged the court to also issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from inviting him or any other member of the NASS on account of any comment made by the senator on the floor of the red chamber.
However, the defendants, through their counsel, argued that the suit was an abuse of court process and that the plaintiff had no right to stop them from discharging their statutory function.
The judge further held that in a democratic society, all citizens are entitled to enjoy freedom of speech and expression, but the scope of such right is limited to situations where it does not infringe on the right of others.
Justice Ekwo held that since the plaintiff had admitted to making the statements and that they were not covered by the parliamentary immunity, he could not stop the defendants from investigating him.
“The right to freedom of expression is not absolute; it is subject to restriction in terms of the rights and reputation of others. The protection afforded by Section 39 (1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to freedom of speech and expression is not unlimited,” the judge held.
Justice Ekwo said that the plaintiff’s claim that the invitation to the SSS office and ICPC “did not consider the exclusive constitutional right” of NASS members was not tenable.
The AGF had through the SSS and ICPC, invited the senator to explain his comments on the floor of the Senate.
Bulkachuwa later filed the suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/911/2022, against the five defendants, asking the court to stop the investigation.