Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed the suit seeking to stop the House of Representatives from investigating the gruesome attacks on some students of Madonna University on February 3, 2015, for lacking in merit.
In dismissing the plaintiff’s suit, the court held that the subject matter for litigation fell within the powers of the National Assembly and therefore, the court lacked the jurisdiction to interfere in the legislative duty of the defendants based on the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs.
Acting on a petition, the House of Representatives, through its Committee on Public Petition, invited the founder of Madonna University, Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Edeh; Rev. Fr. Francis Nwachukwu; Rev. Fr. Francis Nginga and Mr. Ogbonna Okey to appear before it with respect to the incident.
But rather than appear before the House Committee on Public Petition, the plaintiffs, Rev. Fr. Francis Nwachukwu; Rev. Fr. Francis Nginga and Mr. Ogbonna Okey approached the Federal High Court with a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1338/2018 to stop their appearance before the committee.
The suit filed by their counsel, Festus Keyamo (SAN), listed the House of Representatives and the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions as defendants.
In her judgment, Justice Ojukwu specifically held that the National Assembly is empowered by Section 88 (2) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution to “make laws and expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursements or administration or funds appropriated by it.”
She further held that Section 89 (1) (a) (b) of the 1999 constitution gives the National Assembly investigatory powers for the purpose of procuring written or oral, direct or circumstantial evidence from all persons and on any issue that is of national and public interest.
Besides, the court further held that the plaintiffs did not place sufficient materials before the court to show that the subject matter was pending before any court, as the documents submitted to the courts were incomplete documents.
Before her judgment, the court dismissed the motion on notice brought by the defendants for an enlargement of time to file a memorandum of conditional appearance and counter affidavit.
The said motion on notice dated March 13, 2019, was filed by Charles Yoila of the Directorate of Legal Services, National Assembly Legal Services.
Justice Ojukwu who dismissed the motion said it was an attempt by the applicants to arrest the judgment of the court.
Two students of the school, Stanley Okoye, 23, final year Civil Engineering and Ga-Lim Aondofa, Lord were allegedly abducted by the Chief Security Officer of the university, Okey Ogbonna and the Dean of Student Affairs, Rev. Fr. Isaac Nginga, and others now at large and taken to a secluded area where they were tortured, brutalised and dehumanised.
Though they survived the ordeal they allegedly suffered various life-threatening injuries as a result of the incident.
For instance, while Stanley Okoye underwent a special surgery in Germany on the spine to repair major damage inflicted on him while the torture lasted, Aondofa suffered a dislocated jaw that required having his jaws held together with a dental wire to allow the injury heal.
Although some of the affected staff of the university were on July 14, 2015, arraigned before an Enugu Magistrate Court, in connection with the incident, for felony and conspiracy to wit against two final year students of the university, the presiding Magistrate, Nkemjika Anibueze adjourned the case sine dine (indefinitely) in controversial circumstances.