SENATE president Senator Bukola Saraki has won a court order stopping the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the police from proceeding with their investigations into his tenure while he was Kwara State governor.
Senator Saraki governed Kwara State between 2003 and 2011 and earlier this month, the EFCC began investigating what happened during his tenure. It is expected that Senator Saraki will be arrested and formally charged with corruption when his tenure ends on May 29 and a new senate president is elected.
Earlier this week, the EFCC sealed five choice properties located in high brow Ikoyi area of Lagos belonging to Senator Saraki and the agency is now in the process of approaching a court for an interim forfeiture order. Perturbed by the development, Senator Saraki took legal action and an Abuja high court has ruled in his favour, ordering the EFCC the inspector-general of police and three other bodies to end their renewed probe of the senate president.
Other government agencies mentioned in the suit include the Department of State Services, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT). Justice Taiwo gave the verdict yesterday in response to two ex-parte motions filed by Senator Saraki.
According to the judge, the bodies are to des9ist from further action pending the hearing and conclusion of the two fundamental rights suits filed by Senator Saraki. Senator Saraki’s lawyer Sunday Onubi, had told the court that the respondents would cause irreparable damages to the applicant’s rights if not restrained before the substantive suits were heard.
In his ruling, Justice Taiwo said: “There is no doubt that the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009 is a special proceeding with its stated rules and procedure. By the provision of Order 4(3) of the Fundamental Rights-Civil Procedure Rules, 2009, the court may, if satisfied that hardship may be caused to the applicant before the service of an application where liberty or life of the applicant is involved, hear the application ex parte upon such interim reliefs as the justice of the application may demand.
“There is no doubt that, in making the interim reliefs or orders, the court is guided, even in the exercise of its discretion judicially and judiciously applied by the law and statues. One of the considerations, which is paramount, is the hardship the applicant may go through, between the service of the processes and the hearing of the main motion, amongst others.
“To do otherwise and not to restrain the respondents by asking them not to stay actions will result in the court being faced with a fait accompli. I further come to my conclusion that the applicant is entitled to this order in view of the trite law that once the court is seized of a matter, parties are bound not to do anything that will make nugatory any order of the court by staying action.”
He added that the respondents are hereby directed, either by themselves, their servants, agents, privies or officers to stay all actions in connection with the subject of this suit pending the hearing and determination of the origination motion on notice. Justice Taiwo then fixed the hearing of the substantive suit until May 23.