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Kaduna: El-Rufai fights back, seeks N1bn damages on assembly committee report 

Former Kaduna state Governor  Nasir el-Rufai  has  filed a lawsuit against Kaduna State House of Assembly and Kaduna state government, challenging the report of an alleged  N432 billion fraud  investigated by the House’s ad-hoc committee.

Listed as respondents alongside the state legislature is the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.

El-Rufai, in the suit filed by his lawyer, Abdulhakeem Usman  Mustapha (SAN) at the Federal High Court Kaduna, faulted the report of the ad-hoc committee of the state assembly indicting  him and some of his aides for  alleged corruption and mismanagement of fund, while seeking the enforcement of his fundamental human right of fair hearing.

The former governor prayed the court to declare the report a nullity since, according to him, he was not given a fair hearing.

The former governor, who was physically present at the court, was accompanied by some of the commissioners who served in his government, such as former Commissioner for Human Services and Social Development, Hafsat Mohammed Baba, former Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Ibrahim Hussaini, and former Head of Service, Hajiya Bara’atu Mohammed among others.

…Genesis

Governor Uba Sani had on March 30, 2024, told a town hall meeting that the state faced a substantial debt burden of $587 million, N85 billion, and 115 contractual liabilities inherited from the previous administration. “This has led to over 70% of the state’s allocation being used to service the inherited debt,” Sani had said.

And in a swift response, the state legislature constituted an ad-hoc committee to investigate the state’s financial transactions from May 29th, 2015 to May 29th, 2023.

The committee, led by Barrister Henry Danjuma Magaji, submitted its findings June 5th, 2024, revealing alleged significant unaccounted funds and irregularities in financial transactions.

The report indicated mismanagement of funds, diversion of loans, overpayment of contractors, and lack of transparency in the usage of state funds.

The Kaduna State House of Assembly adopted the report and indicted former governor el-Rufai and several of his aides for allegedly siphoning N423 billion.

…Ex-governor sues lawmakers

And moving to save his integrity in the suit filed Wednesday to enforce his fundamental human right, the former governor  asked the court  “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Respondents by themselves, their officers, servants, agents, and privies from further violating the right to a fair hearing of the Applicant in the guise of investigating loans, financial transactions, contractual liabilities, and other related matters of the government of Kaduna State from 29th May 2015 to 29th May 2023.

“An order mandating the 1st Respondent to pay the sum of N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira Only) as damages to the Applicant for breaching his Fundamental Human Rights on account of not affording the Applicant fair before making far-reaching recommendation against him.

“An order or ordersas the Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of the Application.”

The suit filed by the ex-governor’s lawyer, Abdulakeem Usman Mustapha(SAN),  also sought a declaration “that the Applicant as a Nigerian citizen is entitled to be given a fair hearing before his rights can be determined by an administrative or quasi-judicial or judicial or legislative body, in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as Amended) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

“A Declaration that the Ad-Hoc Committee on Investigation of Loans, Financial Transactions, Contractual Liabilities and Other Related Matters of the Government of Kaduna State from 29th May 2015-29th May, 2023 empaneled by the Kaduna State House of Assembly on the 16th of April 2024 which investigated the loans, financial transactions, commercial liabilities and other related matters and called and examined witnesses, took documentary evidence and made broad raging recommendations acted as a quasi-judicial and investigative body/tribunal within the meaning and purview of Section 36 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).

“A Declaration that by a community reading of sections 4, 128, 129 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Altered), the Kaduna State House of Assembly cannot validly conduct investigations which affect or indict the Applicant without affording the Applicant the opportunity to be heard.

 “A Declarationthat the willful and deliberate failure/neglect/refusal by the Ad- Committee on Investigation of Loans, Financial Transactions, Contractual Liabilities and Other Related Matters of the Government of Kaduna State from 29th May, 2015-29th May 2023 empaneled by the Kaduna State House of Assembly on the 16th of April 2024 to invite and hear from the Applicant before indicting him, labeling him a fraud and making broad raging recommendations against him without giving him a fair hearing is a gross, clear and blatant breach of his Fundamental Human Rights to fair hearing guaranteed by Section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended) and Article 7of African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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