A Federal High Court in Abuja has refused the application of a former Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah to stop the federal government from investigating her tenure as a minister between 2011 and 2015 and prosecuting her.
Oduah had in an application prayed for an order to stop the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the police from arresting and investigating her over allegations leveled against her.
She also asked the court to prohibit the Attorney-General of the Federation’s office, the EFCC, and the police from “inviting, arresting, investigating or prosecuting” her over the purchase of two armoured BMW vehicles at the cost of N255m by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch as the aviation minister in 2013.
Justice Abdu Kafarati in his judgment on Wednesday upheld the objection raised by the respondents, to the effect that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to hear the case.
He held that that no court had the power to stop security agencies from carrying out their duty of investigation.
He said, “It is not grantable by this court because the court cannot stop security agencies from carrying out their duties. There is no way a person can be investigated without being invited by the body charged with the responsibility of investigation.
“In most cases, the invitation is even in the interest of the invitee because he or she will have the opportunity of giving his or her side of the story.
“I therefore hold that the application seeking to stop security agencies from inviting, investigating, arresting and/or prosecuting any person suspected to have committed an offence does not constitute a fundamental right action.”
Oduah had argued that the criminal allegations relating to her tenure as minister had been investigated by the EFCC and House of Representatives’ Committee on Aviation and absolved her of any wrong doing.
She urged the court to declare that, having earlier been exonerated, any further investigation, arrest, harassment and prosecution of her person in relation to the same issue, amounted to the violation of her fundamental right to personal liberty, freedom of movement and to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
She prayed for an order prohibiting the respondents from inviting, arresting, otherwise harassing or prosecuting her over the matter.
Justice Kafarati, in upholding the preliminary objection by the AGF and the IGP agreed with them that Oduah could not come under the fundamental rights procedure to seek the reliefs she sought.
He said the subject matter of the case was not a fundamental rights issue.
The judge agreed that Oduah could not seek to restrain statutory bodies from performing their statutory responsibilities through a fundamental rights enforcement application.
He held that the case was without merit and dismissed it.