‘Senate will not join issues on suit seeking to stop confirmation of Bawa’

By Sanni Onogu, Abuja


The Senate yesterday  said it would not join issues publicly with a lawyer that has filed a suit in court seeking to restrain it from screening and confirming Abdulrasheed Bawa for appointment as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter requested the Senate to approve Bawa for appointment as EFCC chair. But a lawyer has approached the Federal High Court praying the court to stop the Senate from embarking on the screening and confirmation exercise.

However, speaking to The Nation on phone in Abuja, the Chairman Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, said the upper chamber has elected not to join issues with the plaintiff in the media. Basiru said doing so would be subjudice since the matter was already before a court of competent jurisdiction. He said that the Senate would not do anything that would undermine judicial authority by engaging in public discuss on a matter already pending before a court. Basiru said: “We cannot reply somebody who has gone to court because it would be subjudice when you go to court.

“But the question the court would even first determine is whether the case itself is not premature having regards to the fact that no decision has even been taken. The issue is whether the court can restrain the exercise, one way or the other, of the powers by the National Assembly and whether that would also not be against the principle of Separation of Power in view of the decision in the case of Adesanya versus Shagari in the Second Republic. But we can’t go into the substance of the allegation but the constitutional issues that we think it raises is whether you can restrain the National Assembly from exercising its duties conferred by the constitution.

“And then whether it is not even premature to be talking about that when the duty has not even been performed one way or the other. But for that we can’t be joining issues in the media as to the legality of the exercise of our constitutional responsibilities. We cannot go into the details of what he has taken to court because it would be subjudice but what comes to our mind is whether it would not be against the Principle of Separation of Power for the court to be invited to restrain the National Assembly or the Senate from performing its constitutionally assigned responsibilities. And whether it is not even premature having regard to the fact that the constitutional responsibility has not been exercised.

“But in terms of the substance of his allegations or what he has taken to court, we don’t want to say what is prejudice but we know most at times, some of those cases are usually litigated more for publicity rather than the substance of the case. And we don’t want to do anything that would undermine judicial authority by going to the public to be joining issues on the substance of his allegations.” On when the Senate is expected to commence the process of confirming Bawa for appointment, Basiru said: “The Senate leadership would determine the conduct of affairs of the Senate and what to be dealt with on a day by day basis through the Order of the day.” Senate President Ahmad Lawan had said that the screening of Bawa would be “done at plenary in keeping with the tradition of the Senate.

It is however not clear whether the screening be held next week or if the present suit would in any way delay the exercise. Meanwhile, in the originating summons filed by Osuagwu Ugochukwu, he argued that Section 2 of the EFCC Act provides that the EFCC shall have a chairman who shall be the chief executive and accounting officer of the commission; be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and possess not less than 15 years cognate experience.


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