Efforts by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieezani Alison-Madueke, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stop their appearance before the House of Representatives Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have run into a hitch, as a Federal High Court in Abuja has turned down their application for an interim injunction to stop the committee from inviting them.
The committee was supposed to commence the probe Monday into allegations that N10 billion had been expended by the state-run oil corporation to charter executive jets for the personal use of Alison-Madueke and her family.
One of the jets is a Challenger 850, while the other is a Global Express XRS, which was said to have cost NNPC €600,000 on a return charter trip to London.
Instead of granting the injunction in the minister and NNPC’s favour, Justice Ahmed Ramat Muhammed directed the House of Representatives to appear before him to show cause why the interim orders being sought by the plaintiffs should not be granted.
The court further directed that the National Assembly and the House of Representatives, who are the first and second respondents, respectively, be served with the application for the injunction.
Justice Muhammed also ordered that the respondents be served with the motion on notice attached to the ex-parte application for the injunction.
The court further ordered that hearing notices be issued and served on the respondents. Instructively, the court paper distributed by NNPC’s media department showed that the ex-parte application for the injunction was heard on April 14, 2014 while the case was adjourned to April 17.
No other supporting court paper was distributed by NNPC to show that the interim injunction or an order to maintain the status quo, as sought by the minister and the corporation, had been granted.
Alison-Madueke had through her lawyer, Etigwe Uwa (SAN), sought an order of interim injunction restraining the National Assembly and the House of Representatives and their committees from summoning her.
She also asked the court to restrain them from asking her to produce any papers, notes or other documents before them.
Alison-Madueke further asked the court to stop the National Assembly and the House of Representatives from issuing a warrant to compel her attendance before them with regards to the investigative public hearing on the lease of aircraft by her, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
In the alternative, she asked for an order of status quo directing the parties to maintain the current position as at the date of filing the suit. However, none of these orders was granted.
The media further learnt that when the case came up on April 17, the court could not consider any further application because of the absence of the respondents.
Uwa, at this juncture, told the court that the respondents were only served the previous day and sought an adjournment.
The judge before adjoining to April 29 (today) noted that the court could not proceed with the case since the respondents were only served the previous day with the court’s order directing them to show cause why the interim orders sought ex-parte should not be granted. Alison-Madueke is on the case seriously.