Rivers Re-Run: Wike Asks Court to Stop FG’s Probe

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Alex Enumah in Abuja

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to stop the Inspector General of Police (IG), Ibrahim Idris, from investigating the complaints, allegations, petitions of crimes and various acts of criminality during the December 10, 2016 re-run elections in Rivers State.

Wike, in a motion ex-parte argued monday through his counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), urged the court for an order of interim injunction restraining the IG, Department of State Services (DSS) and a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Damian Okoro, who are defendants in the motion, or their agents from enforcing or executing the matters contained in the letter written to governor Wike by the IG on December 20, 2016.

In the said letter titled: ‘Investigation into Allegations of Crimes Committed During the Last Rerun Elections in Rivers State,” the IG had stated that the, “purview of the investigation will cover allegations of bribes taken, several brazen murder incidents (including that of serving police officers), reports of gross human rights abuses, acts of sabotage/terrorism, kidnapping for ransom and ballot box snatching, all of which were perpetrated in connivance with several federal and state civil servants as well as highly placed politicians within and outside the state.”

The letter also requested the governor to furnish the Police Investigative Team with all necessary information and exhibits that may assist them in their investigation.
Arguing the motion yesterday before Justice Kolawole, Ozekhome said the action of the police to constitute a panel to investigate the crisis that trailed the rerun elections in the state was illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and null and void.

He said it would be in the interest of justice for the court to set aside the IG’s letter to the governor and direct the police boss to await the outcome of the commission of inquiry set up by the governor.

The motion was supported by an affidavit which averred that security personnel, mainly the police and the army orchestrated the violence that rocked the just concluded rerun election in the state.

The affidavit which was deposed to by Harrison Obi, of Ozekhome’s chambers, also claimed that the actions of the security personnel were caught on video and presented to Nigerians and the whole world by various reputable television stations.

He averred that after the election, governor Wike set up a commission of inquiry to look into the immediate and remote causes of the evidence that trailed the conduct of the elections, with a view to avoiding similar occurrence in subsequent elections and punishing the perpetrators of the act.

The commission of inquiry, he said was set up under the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap 30, Laws of Rivers State, which only governor Wike, as the Chief Security Officer of the state is legally empowered to constitute.

According to Ozekhome, the terms of reference of the panel of investigation set up by the police clearly suggest that the goal of the intended investigation is already pre-determined and biased or likely to be biased against Wike, having regard to the numerous conclusions already reached in the said letter.

The senior advocate argued further that the intention of the Police is to produce a predetermined damning report against Wike through the medium of the Commission of Inquiry, adding that, “the defendants are working from the answer to the question with the predetermined objective of convicting the 2nd plaintiffs (Wike)”.

With conclusions already drawn and reached by the police, without hearing from Wike, he said the Police boss has already “convicted” the governor unheard and is merely using the alleged investigation as a smokescreen and rubber stamp to give credence to the governor’s (2nd plaintiff) guilt.

He therefore urged the court to set aside the content of the letter by the IG and that the police should await the outcome of the committee of inquiry already set up by Wike.
Responding, Justice Kolawole in his ruling held that some constitutional issues regarding the powers of an executive governor of a state were raised in the motion.

Kolawole also refused to grant Wike’s request seeking to set aside the letter of the IG to Wike and instead, ordered that the defendants, comprising of the IG, the DSS and a Deputy Commissioner of Police, Damian Okoro to appear before him on January 30, 2017 to show cause why the relief sought by the plaintiffs in their motion ex parte should not be granted.