820 buses probe: Court to rule on jurisdiction in Ambode’s case Feb 27
A Lagos High Court sitting in the Ikeja area has fixed Feb. 27 rule on whether it has the jurisdiction to entertain a suit filed by former Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, seeking an injunction restraining some of the state lawmakers from probing him over the purchase of 820 buses.
Through his lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo, SAN, the former governor told the court that the lawmakers need to act in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
Oyetibo said that the former governor’s rights under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution were being violated.
“His case is that the exercise of the lawmakers power is subject to the provision of the Constitution particularly the right to fair hearing as contained in Section 36.
“Secondly, the court will determine whether the exercise of the power of the House of Assembly is subject to the provisions of the Constitution under Section 128.
“If the court answers the second question in the affirmative, it has the right to ask if those rights have been violated by the House of Assembly,” the counsel submitted.
“We are also asking your lordship to determine the validity of a law or provision that will require the executive to come back to the House to seek disbursement of funds approved under the budget.
“The fifth relief is tied to the fourth relief: The lawmakers have been accusing the claimant of breach of budgetary approval. If there is no need for budgetary approval, they cannot accuse him of a breach,” he said.
He urged the court to dismiss the objection of the lawmakers with substantial costs.
Counsel to the lawmakers, Olukayode Enitan, SAN, on his part challenged the competence of the court to hear the suit based on three grounds.
“The first ground is that it is ultra vires (beyond legal power or authority) – that is, the power of the court to interfere with any investigation of the Lagos State House of Assembly or any arm of government based on the principle of separation of powers”.
“The second ground is that the suit is preemptive and premature and not actionable, and the third ground is that it discloses no reasonable cause of action. I urge the court to decline jurisdiction as this suit is premature,” he said.
Enitan said that rather than accept an invitation to attend a probe sought by the House of Assembly, Ambode “rushed” to the court.
“The claimant has not been indicted; he has been invited to come and explain some things to us, but instead he ran to court”.