A suit filed by Adamu Bulkachuwa, a senator who once represented Bauchi North Senatorial District in Bauchi State, has been struck out by an Abuja high court on Tuesday.
In July, Bulkachuwa had filed the suit asking the court to prevent law enforcement agencies from investigating him for misconduct while he was still a serving national assembly member.
The respondents in the suit were the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Department of State Services (DSS).
During the valedictory session that was held in honour of members of the ninth senate, Bulkachuwa said he had on numerous occasions “influenced” his wife who happened to be a former appeal court judge.
When his comments subsequently came under heavy scrutiny, the former senator had argued that he was protected by legislative immunity at the time he made them.
Dismissing the case marked FHC/ABJ/CS/895/2023, Justice Inyang Ekwo, the presiding judge, ruled that Section 39(1) of the constitution on legislative immunity does not confer on the lawmaker to say anything he liked.
The judge further described the statement as a confessional one that would not be allowed to enjoy the protection of the constitution.
“In a formal setting like that plenary session or committee proceedings of the senate, it is not expected that a person who is privileged to voice any expression will utter words or express opinion or impart ideas or give information that cannot be defended under the constitution,” the judge stated while delivering judgment.
“Upon studying the provision of Section 39(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), it is my opinion that the words uttered by the plaintiff on the floor of the senate on Saturday, 10th June, 2023 was a confession of doing an act that is prohibited by law.
“When a person confesses that he influenced a judicial officer to help his friends and colleagues, such a person has gone beyond the limit of freedom of speech that is reasonably covered and protected by the provision of Section 39 (1) of the constitution (as amended).
“A person who has used the opportunity given to him by the constitution to express himself freely and uses the opportunity to expose his actions or conduct which the law of the land criminalises has unwittingly invited law enforcement agencies to question him. This is what the plaintiff did in this case.
“I, therefore, find that the speech of the plaintiff on the floor of the senate on June 10 was a confession of illegal act and Section 39 (1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended) cannot be invoked to cover such and I so hold.”
The senator had told his former colleagues during the valedictory session held for senate members in June that he encroached on the independence of his wife by asking her “to extend help” to some of his colleagues.
“I have to appreciate my family, particularly my wife, whose independence and freedom I encroached upon while she was in office. She has been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment and extended her help to my colleagues,” Bulkachuwa had said.
Bulkachuwa’s wife is retired Justice Zainab Adamu Bulkachuwa a former president of the Court of Appeal.
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