The Senate on Tuesday suspended its investigation into allegation of assault against Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), Mr. Danladi Umar, by a security guard, Clement Sargwak.
The Chairman Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Ayo Akinyelure, said the panel decided to adjourn the investigation sine die following a suit instituted against the Senate by Umar on the matter.
Umar had dragged the Senate, the Senate President, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ethics, privileges and public petitions to court and urging the judiciary to interpret the powers of the National Assembly to investigate matters whether they included cases of assault.
But lawyer to the petitioner, Timizing Venyir Ramnap, kicked against the decision of the committee.
Ramnap, in his brief submissions before the Committee’s ruling, said the purported originating summons from a Federal High Court, Abuja forwarded to the committee by counsel to the accused, were mere court processes and not declarative orders.
“Courts have procedures of doing things. The present document before this Committee as read out by the Chairman, is not an order from any court but mere court process served on the Senate.
“Were it to be valid order from the court of competent jurisdiction, Senate may back out, but since it is not, the Senate through this Committee still have its constitutional powers on the case and can forge ahead with the investigation.
“We hereby wish to submit that the Senate do look at its position as contained in law by rejecting this temptation,” he said.
But the Committee Chairman quickly responded that it is not a temptation but effort being made by somebody to circumvent it, which will be challenged in the court.
He said: “We have submitted all the originating summons to the leadership of the Senate, Clerk to the National Assembly, Clerk of the Senate and the legal department of the National Assembly.
“All the issues raised by the respondent who has turned himself to a plaintiff now, will be challenged in the court because investigation on the alleged assault started here before the CCT Chairman ran to court.
“Be rest assured that the matter will not die like that but we have to stop investigation for now, pending the outcome of consultations we are seeking for from relevant authorities and in particular the counter offensive being made against the CCT Chairman in the court of law.
“This is a clear case of circumventing the constitutional powers of the Senate after submitting himself to us for investigation and begged for time to study the allegations made against him.
“He appeared at the first sitting, sought for a week to study allegations on assault leveled against him. We gave him three weeks for that.
“There after, at the second, third sessions, he sent representatives that he couldn’t come due to ill health, only for him to inform us through his lawyers at the fourth sitting two weeks ago (July 13, 2021), that he was already in court.
“Here today, neither him nor any of his representatives is here which will make us to stop the entire process for now, because we can’t write report on the investigation by hearing from only one side.
“We hereby step this investigation aside sine die,” he said.
Danladi in the suit with file no FHC/ABJ/ CS/671/2021, challenged Senate’s Constitutional Power to conduct investigation and purpose for which it is exercisable.
Specifically, the CCT Chairman asked the court to interpret the constitutional powers granted the Senate or House Committees on Ethics and Privileges and Public Petitions whether it covers public assault which are part of the constitutional functions of the Police and the Courts of Law.
A copy of the originating summons signed by Sunday Edward (ESQ) from Abuka and Partners on behalf of Umar, listed him as the Plaintiff and the Senate, Senate President, Senate’s Commitee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions and the Attorney-General of the Federation as defendants.
Umar in the originating summons asked the court to interpret the powers of the four defendants to investigate the case of assault in question.
The summons read in part: “Whether the purported case of assault which allegedly took place at Banex Plaza, on 29th March, 2021, forms part of the matters the 1st defendant is constitutionally empowered to investigate.
“Whether the 1st defendant and its Committee, that is, the 3rd defendant, are competent to investigate and/or invite the plaintiff in relation to the investigation of the allegation of assault levelled against him.
“Whether the powers of the 1st defendant to conduct investigation are not by and/or subject to provisions of sections 88 and 89 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 and are not exercisable for the purposes of making law and exposing corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution of administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by the 1st defendant.
“Whether the 1st defendant’s move to conduct investigative hearing on the petition before it is not unconstitutional and does not amount to an unwarranted usurpation of the functions of the Police and of the Courts of competent jurisdiction”.
Umar urged the Senate to discontinue the investigation following his suit against the National Assembly.
“We write to inform you that the case between our client and Clement Sargwak is now before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (suit No: FCT/HC/ CV/1544/2021, Mr Danladi Umar vs Clement Sargwak) and the issue as to whether or not Clement Sargwak had discontinued and/or withdrawn his petition before your Honourable Committee is equally sub judice.
“We trust that Senate, as the Upper Chamber of the National Assembly, will respect due process and refrain from delving into a matter that is before a court of competent jurisdiction,” the letter reads.
The CCT Chairman was alleged to have physically assaulted Clement Sagwak at the Bannex Plaza in Wuse 2, on March 29, 2021.
In seeking redress, Sargwark through his lawyer, petitioned the Senate.