A Federal High Court, Abuja has asked the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to maintain the status quo in the investigation of violence that rocked Rivers State during the re-run legislative election on December 10, 2016.
The court said that in the event of the IGP going ahead with the probe before the issue of its jurisdiction on the matter was established, it still has the power to void the action.
In a brief ruling on Monday, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that it was necessary to resolve the issue of jurisdiction of the court brought by the respondent before going into the substantive suit.
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike had filed an application to stop the police from investigating activities surrounding the December 10, 2016 re-run elections in the state.
Wike had asked the Court in Abuja to stop the IGP’s probe into the various acts of violence and roles played by individuals in the re-run legislative elections.
However, when the case came up yesterday, counsel to the IGP, Mr. Deji Morakinya, raised preliminary objections to the application, arguing that it would amount to preventing the police from performing their constitutional and statutory duties if Wike’s prayers were granted.
He also prayed the court for interlocutory injunction to stop Wike from continuing with the suit.
The governor’s counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome, said that he would respond to the issues raised in the counter-affidavit and interlocutory at the appropriate time but urged the court to order the IGP or his agents to maintain the status quo on the matter until issues raised in the originating summons are resolved.
Ozekhome said: “The police have admitted that some actions have been taken in the matter before the court but this ought not to be. Hence, the question is whether they should use the issue of jurisdiction to continue to go on with their activities when the court has not determined whether it has jurisdiction or not. They have admitted that they have carried out actions concerning this matter before this court; they are saying that we are carrying out investigation and dismissed some policemen in the matter whilst they ought to stay execution so that they would not be fait accompli. This is my worry.”
“This is no right; otherwise it will be fait accompli and an affront on this court. They should give an undertaking that when arguing the matter, they should stay action for now,” Ozekhome prayed the court.
In a bench ruling, the trial judge, Justice Kolawole said that the police have nothing to lose if the investigation was suspended.
However, the court said that the police have the option to continue with their investigation or not, adding that the court has the power to declare the findings invalid at the end.
According to Justice Kolawole, the issue of jurisdiction is to be resolved first before going into the substance of the matter.
“The issue of jurisdiction of court is said to be sacrosanct until otherwise proven,” he added.
“I see no injuries to be suffered by the defendants if asked to stay action. However, they have the option to go ahead or not but let me say that the court still has the power to declare the findings of the investigation by the police invalid, “he held.
The matter was adjourned till February 10, 2016 for arguments on the applications.