Infectious Diseases Bill: Court bars House committee from probing bribery allegation

House of Reps. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the house of reps]
House of Reps. [PHOTO CREDIT: Official Twitter handle of the house of reps]

The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Wednesday ordered the House of Representative to stop its investigation into the allegation of bribery against it pending when the House appears before the court.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo gave this order following an investigative hearing held by a House ad-hoc committee over an alleged $10 million inducement levelled against the House by the spokesperson of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), Ikenga Ugochinyere.

Mr Ugochinyere had alleged without evidence that members of the House of Representatives were induced by the Bill Gates Foundation with a $10 million bribe to pass the controversial infectious diseases bill, a claim the foundation has denied.

The House then launched a probe into the allegation by setting up an ad-hoc committee headed by Henry Nwawuba (PDP, Imo).

The committee held its first hearing on Monday, having invited Mr Ugochinyere and some media organisations, including, though erroneously, PREMIUM TIMES for which the committee apologised.

Mr Ugochinyere was represented by his legal counsel, Tochukwu Uhazurike at the hearing, but the committee rejected the representation, saying that arrangement was not in line with the rules of the House.

The committee then rescheduled the hearing to Thursday, insisting Mr Ugochinyere must appear before or face a charge of contempt of the parliament.

Mr Uhazurike argued that the matter was in court, therefore, his client could not be compelled to make an appearance.

Having approached the court on May 7, Mr Ugochinyere alongside Action People’s Party (APP) had prayed that the court bar the House from proceeding with its plan to hold a hearing on the allegation of inducement.

Prayers approved

The court, in a suit labelled, FHC/ABJ/CS/475/2020, has now barred the committee from continuing with the hearing as slated.

Joined as defendants in the suit are House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, the House of Representatives, the Clerk of the National Assembly and the Inspector-General of Police.

The case has been adjourned to May 27.

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