The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa. The suit sought to prevent the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) from investigating him based on comments he made during the valedictory session of the 9th National Assembly (NASS).
Justice Inyang Ekwo, delivering the judgment, ruled that the lawsuit lacked merit and should be dismissed. Justice Ekwo emphasized that Senator Bulkachuwa, as a lawmaker, should comprehend the implications of his statements made on the Senate floor.
The judge further clarified that the legislative immunity claimed by Senator Bulkachuwa in this case did not apply. He stated that it is the duty of every law-abiding citizen to cooperate with law enforcement agencies in carrying out their statutory functions. Only when a law enforcement agency breaches a citizen’s fundamental rights during the performance of its duties can a cause of action be considered.
Senator Bulkachuwa had named the Attorney-General of the Federation, the NASS clerk, the State Security Service, ICPC, and the Nigeria Police Force as the defendants in the case. He had sought the court’s declaration that he was covered by parliamentary immunity and the freedom of speech and expression, as enshrined in the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017.
Moreover, he asked the court to declare that no other law enforcement agency of the Federal Government, including the defendants, could question or interview any member of the Senate without exhausting the internal disciplinary mechanisms and obtaining the approval of the 9th House of Senate.
Justice Ekwo determined that Senator Bulkachuwa’s statements on June 10 during the Senate session were not protected by Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution. This section guarantees freedom of expression but does not permit individuals to make any statement without consequences.
In this case, the judge found that Senator Bulkachuwa’s statements amounted to a confession of an illegal act. When a person uses their constitutionally provided platform to admit to actions that are prohibited by law, they inadvertently invite law enforcement agencies to investigate. Consequently, Justice Ekwo concluded that Section 39(1) of the Constitution could not shield such confessions.
With this verdict, Senator Bulkachuwa’s attempts to halt investigations by the ICPC and DSS have been unsuccessful, and the legal proceedings will likely proceed as planned.