From Olalekan Awojodu, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alikali Baba Usman, on Tuesday informed the Federal High Court Abuja, in an affidavit filed by it’s counsel, Wisdom Emmanuel Madaki, the reasons why the police, under his watch, did not go after the All Progressive Congress, APC, Presidential candidate, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The IGP told the Court that Tinubu has no pending petition or criminal matters with Police anywhere in the country while he further clarified that Tinubu is not a suspect to the Nigeria Police, hence, cannot be put on trial.
Specifically, he noted that the suit on the alleged perjury and certificate forgery is frivolous and vexatious and deserves no attention of the Court.
In a counter affidavit to a suit instituted by a Civil Group seeking order of mandamus to compel the IGP to arrest and prosecute Tinubu for perjury and certificate forgery, the Police Chief maintained that Police have no power to prosecute Tinubu without any known offence committed.
Although the affidavit claimed that Tinubu has no pending petition before police, the IGP however admitted having two different petitions from a Civil Group, Incorporated Trustees of Center for Reform and Public Advocacy requesting for arrest and prosecution of Tinubu for alleged perjury and certificate forgery related offences.
The IGP however explained that the two petitions were predicated on allegations that had been adjudicated upon by Supreme Court in 2002 in a suit filed by the late foremost human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
The affidavit maintained that since the alleged perjury and certificate forgery had been resolved by the Supreme Court, there was no need for police to reopen the matter again.
Besides, the IGP said that police does not need any court order to make arrest and prosecute since it derives its powers from the Constitution and statutes.
IGP therefore asked the Federal High Court to dismiss the suit brought against him and the Nigeria Police Force for want of merit and jurisdiction adding that the plaintiff will not be prejudiced if the suit is dismissed.
However, at Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel to the Civil group, Mr Eme Kalu Ekpu told Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo that the counter affidavit of police had just been served on him and that he needed time to peruse it and reply to it formally.
Ekpu asked Justice Ekwo to grant him a short adjournment to enable him react to the counter affidavit properly.
In a brief ruling, Justice Ekwo granted the request and fixed January 19, 2023 for hearing of the suit.
The Incorporated Trustees of Center for Reform and Public Advocacy had dragged the IGP before the Court over his alleged refusal to prosecute the presidential candidate of the APC over allegations bothering on perjury.
The suit dated and filed on July 4 on behalf of the group in Abuja by Mike Nwankwo, has the Nigerian Police Force and the Inspector General of Police as 1st and 2nd respondents.
The Non Governmental Organization said that the legal action against the police was necessitated by the IGP’s refusal to take action on its petitions against Tinubu over an offence it claimed the presidential candidate was indicted by the Lagos State House of Assembly in 1999.
The applicant maintained that by Sections 214 and 215, of the Constitution and Section 4 of the Nigerian Police Act, 2020, the Police have the statutory responsibility to “prevent, detect and investigate criminal allegations whether brought to their notice by individuals, person or persons, corporate bodies, institutions etc”.
Consequently, the applicant in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1058/2022, is asking the court for, “An order of mandamus compelling the respondents to comply with Sections 31 and 32 of the Police Act and Section 3 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 in respect of alleged crime laid out in complaint of the applicant encapsulated in the letter of June 16, 2022 received by the respondents on the same date and titled: Demand for Criminal Prosecution of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu under Sections 191,192 and 463 of the Criminal Code Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Consequent upon the Findings of the Lagos State House of Assembly Ad-hoc Committee, 1999”.
The applicant claimed that by Section 31 of the Nigerian Police Act, the respondents are duty bound to investigate alleged crime brought to them and report their findings to the Attorney General of the Federation or of a state, as the case may be, for legal advice.
Applicant added that by Section 32(1) of the Police Act, “A suspect or defendant alleged or charged with committing offence established by an Act of the National Assembly or under any other laws shall be arrested, investigated and tried or dealt with according to the provisions of this Act, except otherwise provided under this Act”.
Applicant claimed it has the legal competence to invoke the jurisdiction of the court to compel the respondents to discharge their legal, Constitutional and public duties in line with the law.
It lamented that its two letters dated June 16 and 27 to the respondents wherein it demanded the prosecution of Tinubu over alleged perjury have been ignored, adding that respondents also “have not notified the applicant of any action taken on the said letter”.
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