A Federal High Court sitting in Umuahia, Abia State, has quashed the indictment of President Umaru Yar’ Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan by an Abia State Government panel.
The indictment, which was published in the state government White Paper prior to the April elections, also found the Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the election, Onyema Ugochukwu, former President Olusegun Obasanjo and others culpable for corruption and other unspecified wrongdoings.
But Justice H.T. Soba, in the fundamental right enforcement suit, brought by Ugochukwu, held that the procedure adopted by the administration of the former government of Orji Kalu in setting up the panel violates the provision of section 36 of the 1999 Constitution and therefore ultra vires the powers of the government.
Ugochukwu had prayed the court to quash the report of the panel. Specifically, he asked the court to declare “that the Government White Paper on the Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Activities of Some Persons and Serving/Past Government Functionaries Between 1999 and 2007, dated February 21, 2007 which purported to have indicted the applicant of corruption and misconduct is void, being that:
Only a competent court or tribunal can try, inquire and find the applicant guilty and or liable of or for any corruption or wrong doing.
The government of Abia State can only set up a commission of inquiry to inquire into matters in respect of which the Abia State House of Assembly has power to make law.
The applicant was never an employee or contractor to the government of Abia State between 1999 and 2007.
The applicant was not an employee of the federal government of Nigeria between 1999 and the year 2007 among others.
Other persons indicted by the panel include former deputy to Kalu, Enyinnaya Abairibe, Obasanjo’s daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, and former House of Reps member, Mao Ohuabunwa.