Court slates May 9 to deliver judgment on Wike’s suit against IGP, EFCC
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court sitting Abuja has slated May 9, 2018, to decide whether or not to stop the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Service (SSS) from investigating governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Wike had on June 5, 2017 approached the court with a suit seeking to restrain the Inspector General of Police, the Nigeria Police Force, the EFCC, the SSS and their agents from searching any of his houses whether in Abuja or any other part of the country.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, Wike’s counsel, Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN) told the court that what his client is seeking is the interpretation of Section 308 of the Constitution as it relates to search warrant.
He said, “A search warrant is undoubtedly a process of the court and if that is the case, there is a breach of the absolute immunity that Section 308 confers on the plaintiff (Wike).”
Ogwemoh argued that the section provided that a search warrant required the appearance of the plaintiff who had immunity at the property to be searched and further submitted that the submission by the counsel to the Police that it had the discretion to search his house in his absence was against the law.
He said, since Wike is only seeking an interpretation to the law, there was no need to attach a warrant to the application.
Counsel to the IGP, David Igbodo, in his opposition to the application, prayed the court to dismiss it on the grounds that it was mere speculations and added that, “The application is speculative because, in the first instance, there is no search warrant attached to it.
“The only exhibit attached is the interview granted by Wike himself in which he made allegations that the police wants to search his house in Abuja.
“He made the allegation but he did not attach the search warrant to prove it. Assuming without conceding that the police obtained a search warrant to search the Rivers governor’s house in Abuja, the question is, can the police execute the search warrant without requiring his presence?
“The question has been answered by the Supreme Court and the answer is yes, the police can effectively do that without requiring his presence, so, the government house of Rivers in Abuja can be searched without the governor’s presence as there are security men there that can witness the search.”
Igbodo further submitted that the law allowed the police to gather evidence and investigate officials who had immunity, adding that a search warrant was a process of obtaining evidence during the investigation.
According to him, the Governor enjoys the immunity which is not in dispute but while he enjoys immunity, he can be investigated and during the process of investigation, evidence can be gathered against him.
Counsel to the SSS, O. Atoyebi also urged the court to dismiss the application on the grounds that it was an attempt by the governor to prevent the service from performing its statutory functions.
Mrs Elizabeth Alabi, counsel to the EFCC also opposed the application and prayed the court to dismiss it saying that the commission had no business in the suit and was wrongfully joined.
She also asked the court to award N100,000 cost against the governor.
After listening to the submissions of the counsel, Justice Mohammed reserved judgment in the matter till May 9, 2018.
Wike wants the court to declare that, by virtues of the provisions of Section 308 of the constitution, the defendants cannot, whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies or in any manner howsoever apply for, obtain, issue or in any way or manner howsoever execute any court process, requiring his appearance as the current the Governor of Rivers State.
He is also seeking a declaration that by virtue of the combined effect of section 308 of the Constitution and section 149 and 150 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the defendants cannot execute any search warrant at any of residence in in Nigeria.
The Plaintiff also wants an order of injunction restraining the defendants to issue, enter any of his residence anywhere in the country by virtue of search warrant or any court process whatsoever which shall compel the physical presence of the Plaintiff who is currently the Governor of Rivers State, in order to search the said residence of the Plaintiff in contravention of the Plaintiff’s immunity as preserved by section 308 of the Constitution.