A former Nigerian senator, Adamu Bulkachuwa, who confessed to influencing his retired Appeal Court justice wife’s decisions, has approached the court to stop his possible investigation and arrest.
Mr Bulkachuwa filed the suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja after receiving an ICPC invitation and three days before he was expected to appear before the investigative team of the anti-corruption agency.
Mr Bulkachuwa, who represented Bauchi North senatorial district in the immediate-past 9th National Assembly, had shocked many when he admitted trampling on his wife’s freedom and independence while she served as President of the Court of Appeal.
The former senator, 83, an All Progressives Congress (APC) senator between June 2019 and June 2023, boasted about how he, on different occasions, influenced his wife’s decisions to the advantage of many of his colleagues in the Senate.
Mrs Bulkachuwa was the President of the Court of Appeal between 2014 and 2020 and retired from the court after clocking the mandatory retirement age of 70.
“My wife, whose freedom and independence I encroached upon while (she) was in office, and she has been very tolerant and accepted my encroachment and extended her help to my colleagues,” Mr Bulkachuwa said during the valedictory session of the 9th Senate on 10 June.
Mr Bulkachuwa later said his comment was taken out of context because the then Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, did not allow him to complete his thoughts.
His wife, Zainab Bulkachuwa, also said she never compromised her oath of office at any time, contrary to her husband’s comments suggesting that she acted unethically on many occasions.
In the wake of the outrage that trailed the revelation, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) called on the police and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate Mr Bulkachuwa.
In line with its mandate to investigate corrupt practices, the ICPC commenced an investigation and invited the senator for questioning.
But sources at the ICPC informed our reporter that after receiving the ICPC invitation, Mr Bulkachuwa, through his lawyer, Donald Ajibowu, wrote to the agency to reschedule his appearance to 6 July.
He anchored his request on ill-health.
But three days before the rescheduled date, Mr Bulkachuwa filed a suit in the Federal High Court in Abuja, urging it to bar the ICPC from investigating him, PREMIUM TIMES was told.
He listed the Federation’s Attorney General, the National Assembly Clerk, the State Security Service (SSS), the ICPC, and Nigeria Police Force as defendants.
In the suit filed on 3 July, the senator sought a “judicial interpretation of Section 1 of the Legislative Houses (Powers and Privileges) Act 2017, which confers immunity on him from any civil or criminal litigation in respect of any utterance he makes on the floor of the Senate in his capacity as a serving Senator.”
Mr Bulkachuwa urged the court to declare that his invitation by the ICPC to appear before it was “…illegal, arbitrary, oppressive, unconstitutional and a gross violation and a likelihood of continuous infraction of the applicant’s fundamental human right as guaranteed by Sections 34, 35, 36, 37, 41 and 46 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).”
He further urged the court to declare that he was entitled “to freedom of speech/expression by Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and as exercise by his other Senators’ colleagues and having not been so afforded by the leadership of the Ninth (9th) Senate, cannot be held liable for the unintended inference of an inchoate speech/statement/expression.”
Mr Bulkachuwa prayed the court to make “an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents jointly and severally, particularly the 4th respondent (ICPC), acting directly or indirectly through their agents, officers, privies,… from inviting, harassing, intimidating and/or compelling the applicant to appear before the respondents pending the hearing and determination of suit…”
The case has not been assigned to a judge.
The NBA president, Yakubu Maikyau, and several other lawyers condemned Mr Bulkachuwa’s comments.
Mr Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had said Mr Bulkachuwa’s claim of helping his colleagues to influence the decisions of his wife during her time as the Court of Appeal president “were clearly admissions by the Senator, that he did attempt to, and/or perverted the course of justice/interfered with the due administration of justice…”
This, he noted, “makes him liable to be investigated and prosecuted even on his admission.”
Similarly, a former president of the NBA, Olisa Agbakoba, a SAN, called for Mr Bulkachuwa’s investigation.
Chidi Odinkalu, a law professor and an erstwhile chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said the senator’s revelation dented the judiciary’s reputation.
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