Honour Police invitation, Court tells Saraki, Melaye, Murrey-Bruce

Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday directed Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Murray-Bruce to immediately honour the invitation of the Police over their role in the October 5, 2018, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP’s) protest on the outcome of the Osun State governorship election.

Justice Abang held in a ruling on the application filed by the three Senators to stop the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and FCT Commissioner of Police, from inviting them, that mere invitation does not translate to breach of fundamental human rights of the applicants.

In dismissing the application, the Judge said it lacked merit and ordered that the Senators should report to the Police.

According to the judge: “The invitation of the applicants on the 6, 8 October 2018, remains valid and subsisting. The applicants should without fail report to the Police.”

“The application lacks merit, therefore it failed. A cost of N50,000 is awarded against the applicants,” Abang held in the ruling.

In resolving the issues in favour of the Police, the trial Judge said it was a constitutional responsibility of the Police to invite and interrogate any person, who is not covered by immunity over suspected breach of the law.

The Judge said by rushing to the court on mere invitation to file application on breach of fundamental human rights was against the constitutional role of the Police.

“The applicants did not wait for infringement to occur before coming to court. They cannot by mere invitation say they are harassed, intimidated or denied their freedom of movement. The Police were merely carrying out their constitutional duty.”

“They ought to report to Police on invitation, it is the outcome of the invitation that could be said to a breach of fundamental human rights. The court cannot question the Police on invitation, nor can the court restrain the Police from their lawful role,” Justice Abang said.

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In sustaining the objection raised by the Police against the application, Justice Abang said the application was no supported by competent affidavit and that the applicants ought to have deposed to affidavit each and personally, and not by a proxy as in the instant case.

“In this case the three senators filed one suit. They didn’t file separate application nor deposed to any affidavit, which is required in fundamental human rights case.”

“This is in breach of order 2 rule 4 of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure,” the Judge held.

Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce had dragged the IGP and FCT Commissioner of Police to court stop the Police from making any attempt to arrest them for staging a protest to the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Police Headquarters, Abuja.

In the suit which had the IGP and the FCT Commissioner of Police as respondents, the applicants were from, among leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who marched to INEC’s office to protest against the outcome of the Osun State governorship election.

In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/03/095/2018, the applicants, through their counsel, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), prayed the Court to declare that the harassment that was given to them by the Police during their peaceful protest on October 5, last year, including the teargas that was fired at them, amounted to gross violation of their fundamental human rights.

Saraki and others also urged the court to declare “that the threat, intimidation and unlawful harassment of the applicants by the agents of the 1st and 2nd Respondents via a letter of invitation wherein the applicants were directed to appear before the agents of the Respondents on October 8, 2018, is illegal, unconstitutional and a gross violation of the applicants’ fundamental right as guaranteed under section 34 and 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999( as amended) and Article 11 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Acts, Cap 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

They also prayed the court to set aside the invitation letter with respect to “the lawful and peaceful procession organised by members of the PDP on October 5, 2018, in addition to an order directing the Respondents to jointly and severally, pay them the sum of N500 million as pecuniary and exemplary damages arising from humiliation, intimidation, harassment and unlawful attempt to arrest them.

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