Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, has opted for an all-out war against the House of Representatives following legal advice that she could weather the storm over the N10bn chartered jets affair.
TheCable has been informed that the minister is assembling a team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) to engage the House in a legal battle over the probe.
The minister obtained a court order on Monday to stall the probe, although it has been difficult for her legal team to serve Speaker Aminu Tambuwal.
She also sought to restrain the House Committee on Public Accounts from probing her.
This, TheCable learnt, could buy her some time until a Federal High Court decides the fate of 37 lawmakers in the House who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The calculation of her strategists is that the court pronouncement to be made on May 23 will favour the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and give the ruling party a comfortable majority in the House.
Some members of the probe committee defected from the PDP and are expected to lose their seats after the court case.
This could effectively bring the probe to a dead end.
Presidency is said to be growing “tired” of what a source described as “incessant embarrassment of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan through investigations by the Senate and the House”.
The legal team, comprising some Senior Advocates, alleged that the National Assembly, especially the House, had been abusing Section 88(1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution to subject the Executive arm to undue investigation.
The section reads: “Subject to the provisions of this constitution, each House of the National Assembly shall have power by resolution published in its journal or in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation to direct or cause to be directed an investigation into
“(a) any matter or thing with respect to which it has power to make laws; and
“(b) the conduct of affairs of any person, authority, Ministry or government department charged or intended to be charged with the duty or responsibility for
“(i) executing or administering laws enacted by the National Assembly, and
“(ii) disbursing or administering moneys appropriated or to be appropriated by the National Assembly
“(2) The powers conferred on the National Assembly under the provisions of this section are exercisable only for the purpose of enabling it to:
“(a) make laws with respect to any matter within its legislative competence and correct any defects in existing laws; and
“(b) expose corruption, inefficiency or waste in the execution or administration of laws within its legislative competence and in the disbursement or administration of funds appropriated by it.”
A source, who was privy to Alison-Madueke’s legal battle, said: “The legal advice was clear that the minister has a good case to restrain the House from proceeding with the investigation.
“Some forces in the presidency also believe that the government can use the matter as a test case to checkmate the House. So, the government is also trying to seek interpretation of Section 88(1) (2) of the 1999 Constitution.”