Former Rivers State Governor Rotimi Amaechi lost again yesterday in his judicial bid to stop the state government from probing his administration.
The Port Harcourt Division of the Appeal Court in Rivers State dismissed the suit filed by former Governor Amaechi, now the Minister of Transport, challenging his invitation to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by Governor Nyesom Wike to investigate the sale of the state’s assets and the disbursement of the N2 billion agriculture fund by his administration.
Delivering the appellate court judgement which lasted for over three hours on Monday, the presiding judge, Justice O.F. Omoleye, faulted Amaechi’s failure to appear before the probe panel.
The judge stated that Amaechi deliberately ignored the invitation to appear before the Commission so he could be heard, instead he chose to go to court to challenge the constitution of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry among others.
While dismissing the claim that Amaechi was denied right to fair hearing, the court said that
Amaechi denied himself the right of hearing, adding that he could not sit in his comfort zone and determine for the probe panel when to sit.
The judge noted that there is no law which prohibits Wike from investigating the past governor. The judge held that there also was also nothing wrong for Gov. Wike to constitute an inquiry to investigate if assets belonging to the state were properly sold by the immediate past administration.
The court dismissed the allegation of bias by Amaechi against the chairman of the Commission, Justice George Omereji.
She said that Amaechi failed to establish his allegation of bias based on concrete evidence.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the judgement, the Rivers State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma (SAN ) stated that the implication of the judgment was that the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry are valid and can be implemented.
He expressed satisfaction that the Court of Appeal held that the Commission was validly constituted.
The lead counsel to Wike, Oladejo Lamikanra (SAN) said that the court ruled in favour of his client by striking out all the reliefs sought for by Amaechi, except one.
Justice Simeon Amadi of the Rivers State High Court dismissed the suit filed by Amaechi challenging moves by Governor Wike to probe his administration.
In his ruling, Justice Amadi said the Rivers State Judicial Commission of Inquiry, set up by Governor Wike to look into aspects of the administration of the former governor, was not established to investigate the personal life of the former governor.
He ruled that Governor Wike was empowered by law to open the books of former governments in the state since the actions affected the lives of the people of the state.
In the ruling, Justice Amadi said that the 30 days set aside for the Commission to conclude its job did not in any way rob the former governor of fair hearing, noting that it could be extended.
He explained that since Amaechi had not filed any memorandum before the commission or appeared before it, he could not allege denial of right to fair hearing.
The court also ruled that the former governor was not on trial with the setting up of the Commission, saying that the terms of reference of the probe panel did not in any way accuse Amaechi of any crime.
The judge said: “The Judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man, but it is also the last hope of the mighty and movers and shakers of democracy. Those who by the benevolence of the Judiciary got to power should resist the temptation to emasculate the Judiciary.”