Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday fixed June 24 for the hearing of two suits filed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to challenge his probe by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
This was despite the petition sent on Tuesday by the EFCC to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Adamu Abdu-Kafarati, accusing Justice Taiwo of bias in his handling of cases involving the commission and requesting the re-assignment of all the cases to another judge of the court.
The request by the EFCC followed separate orders issued by Justice Taiwo to stop it from continuing its investigations of alleged corrupt acts said to have been committed by Saraki and Governor Rochas Okorocha.
Justice Taiwo had, on May 9, granted the ex parte order stopping the commission from going ahead with the probe of Okorocha.
He also on May 14 granted a similar order in favour Saraki.
A lawyer, Mr Sunday Onubi, moved the separate applications filed along with the fundamental rights enforcement suits separately instituted by Okorocha and Saraki.
At the Thursday’s proceedings, Saraki’s lawyer, Sunday Onubi, told Justice Taiwo he had served all parties in the suit with the plaintiff’s processes, including the order of the court.
Two of the respondents to the suit, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the EFCC represented by their lawyers told the court they had filed their separate counter-affidavits to Saraki’s suit.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, appeared for the AGF, while Mr Chile Okoromma, represented the EFCC.
Apart from the AGF and the EFCC, other respondents to the suit are the Department of State Services, the Inspector-General of Police, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission and the Code of Conduct Bureau.
The trial judge directed all parties to the suit to exchange all the processes before June 24 fixed for hearing of the suit.
In his letter to the chief judge of the Federal High Court dated May 21, the acting chairman of the EFCC had said his request for the transfer of all cases involving the commission from Justice Taiwo had become necessary “because of the commission’s lack of confidence in his Lordship’s impartiality to dispense justice in any matter concerning it.”
Magu stated that against established legal principles validated by judicial pronouncements, Justice Taiwo, in the fundamental rights enforcement suits filed by Saraki and Okorocha, “restrained the commission, among others, from performing its statutory function of investigating them pending the determination of originating motions on notice.”
He added, “Particularly more worrisome is that the said orders were made ex parte contrary to the acclaimed judicial depreciation of abuse of ex parte orders by courts and Rule 3.5 of the Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.