The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday dismissed a fundamental rights claim filed by a former Minister of Aviation, now in the Senate, Senator, Stella Oduah, against the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, and the Inspector-General of Police, IGP.
The Justice Okon Abang High Court dismissed the Senator’s suit for want of jurisdiction and ordered her to pay the sum of N15, 000 to the AGF as cost of action.
Oduah had filed the suit in August 2015 praying the court to restrain agencies of Government from questioning or prosecuting her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at a cost of N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, under her watch as the Minister of Aviation in 2013.
According to her prayers, she has already been probed and exonerated by the House of Representatives Committee on Aviation as well as the EFCC, Oduah prayed Justice Abang to render that any further probe would amount to violating her fundamental rights.
The former Minister further alleged that the Federal Government had perfected plans to try prominent members of the PDP on trump up charges in a special Lagos State High Court, so as to turn the country into a one-party state as she said this was happening to her for playing a prominent role in the opposition.
However, the EFCC denied doing the bidding of the APC, claiming that it was independent and furnished the court with a petition dated October 18, 2013 written by a lawyer from the chambers of Mr. Femi Falana SAN, calling for Oduah’s investigation.
The anti-graft agency disclosed that the said petition was captioned, ‘Request for Investigation of Economic and Financial Crimes of the sum of N255m by Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah’.
The EFCC then urged the court to dismiss Oduah’s suit.
While delivering judgment on the matter, the trial judge dismissed EFCC’s objection for not complying with Order 8 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure.
“The EFCC did not file any opposition in line with the law,” Justice Abang ruled, even as he upheld the preliminary objection filed by the AGF, who challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court in Lagos to entertain Oduah’s suit.
Counsel for the Attorney-General, T.A. Gazali had argued that since the rights violation that Oduah alleged did not happen in Lagos, it would be a violation of Section 46(1) of the constitution and Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure to entertain the case in Lagos.
The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos cannot assume jurisdiction to entertain alleged breach of fundamental rights that did not take place in Lagos State,” Gazali had argued.
Justice Abang dismissed Oduah’s case.