A federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the suit filed by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa to stop the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) from investigating him over the indicting comment he made during the valedictory session of the 9th National Assembly.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in his ruling, held that the suit lacked merit and dismissed it outrightly. He said Bulkachuwa, being a lawmaker, ought to understand the implication of the statement he made on the floor of the Senate.
According to him, the legislative immunity the plaintiff (Bulkachuwa) claims in this case does not avail him.
“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.
“It is only where a law enforcement agency breaches the fundamental right of a citizen in the process of carrying out its statutory function, then a cause of action could be said to have arisen,” the judge said.
Bulkachuwa had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), National Assembly Clerk, State Security Service, ICPC and the Nigeria Police Force as 1st to 5th defendants, respectively.
He 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.”
The Bauchi senator also prayed the court to declare that without exhausting the internal disciplinary mechanism, recommendations and approval of the 9th Senate, no other law enforcement agent of the Federal Government, including the defendants, can invite any member of the Senate for questioning/interview.
However, Justice Ekwo held that the utterance made by Bulkachuwa on the floor of the Senate on June 10 was not covered by Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution.
“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,” he 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, he added.
“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 the speech of the plaintiff on the floor of the Senate on June 10 was 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,” the judge said.
In a viral video clip on June 12, 2023, Bukachuwa said his wife, President of the Court of Appeal, Zainab, assisted National Assembly members as a serving judge.