A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Thursday ordered the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Sen. Dino Melaye and Sen. Ben Murray-Bruce to immediately honour the police invitation for questioning over their roles in the October 5, 2018 street protest staged in Abuja by the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) over the Osun state governorship election result.
The three senators were part of the PDP leaders who led the protest after Gboyega Oyetola, the All Progressives Congress(APC) candidate was declared winner of the election.
They alleged that security agencies, including the police colluded with the APC to rig the governorship election earlier conducted in Ekiti State and the one held in Osun State. The senators had led a protest to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s Headquarters in Abuja, demanding a free and fair general election in 2019 and were on their way to the Nigerian Police Headquarters when policemen dispersed them with teargas.
Delivering judgment on Thursday, Justice Okon Abang dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce who had been invited by the Police to come and explain their roles in the protest.
The senators had sought for a court order to nullify October 6 and 8, 2018 letters of invitation sent to them by the police.
In the suit filed on October 8, 2018, they also claimed that the police invitation amounted to harassment, intimidation and an attempt by the police to detain them unlawfully.
They prayed for, among others in the suit, the court’s declaration that the act of the police dispersing their procession using tear gas was a violation of their rights and sought an order awarding them N500m as “exemplary and pecuniary damages.”
Justice Abang in his judgment upheld the submission of the police by dismissing the applicants suit for lacking in merit and awarding the cost of N50,000 against the three applicants.
He held that a mere invitation by the police which are empowered by Section 4 of the Police Act to detect and investigate crimes could never amount to harassment or intimidation.
Abang further held that the police having alleged in their response to the suit that the PDP procession was dispersed following the protesters riotous and criminal conduct, the law enforcement agency had the power to invite suspects for questioning.
He ruled that the Police invitation extended to them remained valid and subsisting, adding that it was the outcome of their honouring the invitation that would determine if their rights had been violated.
“The court cannot restrain the Police from carrying out their statutory function and in this case, they have acted within the provision of Section 4 of the Police Act.
“They issued the letters dated October 6 and 8 inviting the applicants for questioning over their roles in the procession of the Peoples Democratic Party that held on October 5, 2018. The Police acted in public and national interests.
“The letters of invitation dated October 6 and 8, 2018 remain valid and subsisting. The applicants shall respond and report to the Police without fail.
“It is the outcome of the applicants honouring the invitation that would determine if their rights have been violated, certainly not before honouring the invitation,” Justice Abang stated