Why Senator Bulkachuwa can’t be arrested, investigated – NASS tells court
The National Assembly (NASS) Clerk, Magaji Tambuwal, has told a Federal High Court, Abuja that Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa enjoyed immunity from any form of proceedings in respect of words spoken or written at the plenary session.
Tambuwal told Justice Inyang Ekwo in a counter affidavit filed in response to Bulkachuwa’s suit.
NAN reports that Bulkachuwa had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the NASS clerk, State Security Service, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Nigeria Police Force as 1st to 5th defendants respectively.
The plaintiff 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.”
He also prayed the court to declare that without exhausting the internal disciplinary mechanism, recommendations and approval of the 9th House of Senate, no other law enforcement agent of the Federal Government, including the defendants can invite any member of the Senate for questioning/interview and or for any disciplinary purposes in relation to the plaintiff’s privileged inchoate expression/statement/speeches made on the floor of the Nigeria House of Senate at the valedictory session.”
Therefore, in his application marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/895/2023 and filed by his lawyer, Charles Yoila, the clerk averred that as at the time Bulkachuwa made what he referred to as the inchoate statement, “he still enjoyed all the privileges and immunities of a legislator under the Nigerian Laws.
“That the congressional immunity recognised by the Senate Standing Orders 2022 (as amended) recognises the privileges granted to senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to exempt them from arrest or questioning for any speech or debate entered into during a legislative house.”
The clerk, however, argued that Bulkachuwa had no cause of action against him (2nd defendant) to warrant the institution of the suit against him.
“That the plaintiff was not cut short and/or gaged by the 2nd defendant when he was making his valedictory speech while a sitting senator in the 9th National Assembly as the 2nd defendant was not presiding over plenary on that day,” he said.
Justice Ekwo adjourned the matter until July 27 for hearing.