A Federal High Court, Thursday, directed the 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 over the outcome of Osun state governorship election.
Delivering a ruling on the application filed by the three Senators to stop the Inspector General of Police and FCT Commissioner of Police, from inviting them, Justice Okon Abang, held that mere invitation does not translate to breach of fundamental human rights of the applicants.
In dismissing the enforcement of fundamental human rights application, Abang said it lacked merit and ordered that them to report to the police without fail.
According to the judge: “The invitation of the applicants on the 6, 8 Oct. 2018, remains valid and subsisting. The applicants should without fail report to police.
“The application lacks merit, therefore it failed. A cost of N50,000 is awarded against the applicants,” Abang held.
In resolving the issues in favour of the police, Abang said it was constitutional responsibility of the police to invite and interrogate any person, who is not covered by the 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.
“The police are constitutionally empowered to invite any person, who has no immunity for questioning.
“They ought to report to police on invitation, it is the outcome of the invitation that could be said to breach of fundamental human rights. The court cannot question the police on invitation, nor can the court restrain the police from their lawful role,” Abang said.
In sustaining the the objection raised by the police against the application, Abang said the application was no supported by competent affidavit.
Aside this, the judge said 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 stop the police from any attempt to arrest them for staging a protest to the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Police Headquarters, Abuja.
While the IG was cited as the first respondent in the matter, the Commissioner of Police in the FCT was sued as the second tespondent.
The applicants were among leaders of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who marched to the office of the electoral body to protest against the outcome of the Osun State governorship election.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/03/095/2018, the applicants, through their lawyer, Mahmud Magaji, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), prayed the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare that the harassment that was given to them by the Police during their peaceful protest on October 5, 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 first and second 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 Peoples Democratic Party on October 5, 2018”, in addition to an order directing the Respondents to jointly and severally, pay them the sum of N500m as pecuniary and exemplary damages arising from humiliation, intimidation, harassment and unlawful attempt to arrest them.