Senator Bukola Saraki
By Tobi Soniyi
A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday condemned in strong terms the issuance of a warrant for the arrest of former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki.
Justice Gladys Olotu while ruling on Saraki’s application to withdraw his application to stop the police from arresting him, said that the police undermined the authority of the court when it issued a warrant for Saraki’s arrest and also declared him wanted after they (the police) have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court.
She also set aside the order issued by the police declaring Saraki wanted on the ground that such order foisted a fait accompli on the court.
The judge rejected the arguments of the police counsel, Mr. Femi Falana, that the court did not have the power to stop the police from carrying out their constitutional duties.
According to her, once a party has submitted a dispute to the court and the other party has been served, the proper thing to do is to allow the court to determine the dispute.
She rejected the arguments could come to the court to stop their arrest hiding under the rule of law. The judge found that the plaintiff’s case had been overtaken by events.
The judge said: “I am of the view that the plaintiff has unfettered right to come to court.”
She upheld the arguments of counsel to Saraki, Mr. Lawal Rabana (SAN), that it did not lie in the mouth of a party to declare a case an abuse of court but that it should be the duty of the court to so declare after hearing all the parties.
The judge noted that the police admitted that they obtained a warrant while the case was pending and also executed the warrant in the public domain instead of serving it on the plaintiff.
She said: “The police’s excuse is not tenable. It would have been wise to await the decision of this court. They undermined this court and should have come to this court if they became aware that the plaintiff planned to run.
“It was this court that should have issued the warrant. It is this court that should have declared him wanted. This is because the police's power to do anything has been technically suspended. The sanctity of the rule of law must be protected at all costs and at all time. The warrant of arrest and the order declaring him wanted are hereby set aside. This case is hereby struck out.”
Justice Olotu struck out the case on the ground that the reliefs had been overtaken by events.
Rabana had asked the court to make pronouncement on the action of the police declaring Saraki's wanted when he had already filed a suit and the police had been served with the court process. He said: “The steps taken by the police had undermined the process filed. This is not in the best interest of justice and tenets of rule of law. When parties had submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the court parties ought to stay action.
“This is a condemnable act which this court should view seriously as undermining the processes before this court,” he said.
But Falana told the court that the warrant for the arrest of Saraki was issued by a federal high court in Lagos, a court of competent jurisdiction.
He also told the court that Saraki was declared wanted when the police got the hint that he (Saraki) wanted to run away.