Former Lagos state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode cannot stop the Lagos state Assembly from probing him over his administration’s purchase of 820 buses for the state’s bus reform project, says Justice Yetunde Adesanya of the Ikeja High Court in her Thursday ruling on a suit filed by Ambode.
Ambode had filed a suit seeking an injunction to restrain the Assembly from probing him. He also sought a second injunction restraining the respondents from representing or continuing to represent to the public that the he procured 820 buses in breach of budgetary approval.
But in her ruling, Justice Adesanya clarified that an ad-hoc committee is an investigative committee performing a fact finding function and not a court or a tribunal that can be restrained.
She said: “An ad-hoc committee is an investigative committee performing a fact finding function and not a court, judicial body or a tribunal.
“It is not set up to determine the civil rights and obligations of the claimant.
“In the same breath, an investigation is not an indictment, it precedes an indictment.
“The claimant, in this instance, has not been indicted by the House of Assembly neither has the committee indicted the claimant by a mere invitation by summons to appear before it,” she said.
The judge held that an invitation by the committee did not constitute a breach of the former governor’s fundamental right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The ad-hoc committee is yet to carry out its constitutional function as contained in Section 128 and 129 of the Constitution.
“Assuming that the claimant’s claim of bias by the constituted ad-hoc committee is real and well founded that some members of the committee had concluded that the claimant is guilty of the allegation before inviting him to appear before the committee, this will still not amount to a threat to his fundamental right to fair hearing because the whole exercise is nothing more than an investigation,” she said
Justice Adesanya thereafter struck out Ambode’s suit for being preemptive and beyond legal authority.
I hereby find that the claimant’s action is an invitation to the court to cripple the legislative exercise of the statutory power of the Lagos State House of Assembly under Section 128 and 129 of the 1999 Constitution.
“That is not the function of the court, and no court of law should accede such invitation. The claimant’s suit is hereby struck out,” she said.