By Akinwale Akintunde
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has asked the Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain the Inspector-General of Police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Department of State Services (DSS) from conducting a search in his homes.
Wike is asking the court to declare that conducting such search in his house would violate his immunity guaranteed by the constitution.
He is praying the court to determine whether Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution precludes the defendants from applying for and or obtaining any process of any court requiring or compelling his appearance.
The governor wants the court to declare that by virtue of the provisions of Section 308 of the Constitution, the defendants or their agents cannot apply for, obtain, issue or in any way or manner howsoever execute any court process requiring his appearance.
Â Wike said the defendants intend to raise his Abuja residence so as to incriminate him in an unspecified crime through the recovery of huge sums of money, firearms and expensive wristwatches.
He is among others, praying the court for the following: â€œA declaration that by virtue of the combined effect of section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and sections 149 (1) and 150 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 the defendants cannot whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies or in any manner howsoever apply for, obtain, issue or in any way or manner howsoever execute any search warrant at the residence of the plaintiff in Abuja or in any of the plaintiffâ€™s residence in any other place or locations in Nigeria where the issue and or execution of such search warrant would compel and or require the presence of the plaintiff who is the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria.
Â â€œAn order that the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies or in any manner howsoever cannot by the combined effect of section 308 of the 1999 Constitution and sections 149 (1) and 150 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 apply for, obtain, issue or in any way or manner howsoever execute any search warrant at the residence of the plaintiff in Abuja or in any of the plaintiffâ€™s residence in any other place or locations in Nigeria during the continuance of the plaintiffâ€™s tenure of office as the governor of Rivers State.â€
According to him, â€œAn order that any purported court process or any application for any court process, search warrant or any process of court by whatever name so called obtained by or being sought to be obtained by the defendants, their servants, agents, privies, officers or howsoever in so far as such court process or search warrant would have the effect of compelling or requiring the presence of the plaintiff in the course of such application and/or its execution while the Plaintiff occupies the office of the Governor of Rivers State is invalid, null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
Â â€œAn order of injunction restraining the defendants whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies or in any manner howsoever from applying for, issuing, entering upon the residence of the plaintiff in Abuja or anywhere else in Nigeria by virtue of a search warrant or any court process whatsoever which shall compel or require the physical presence of the plaintiff who is currently the governor of Rivers StateÂ in order to search the said residence of the plaintiff and to remove from such residence/premises any items whatsoever during the tenure of the plaintiff as governor of Rivers State in contravention of the plaintiffâ€™s immunity as preserved by section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).â€
In an affidavit deposed to by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Emmanuel Chinwenwo Aguma, to support the originating summons, he stated he knows Wike, who was sworn in as Rivers State Governor on May 29, 2015 for a four year term.
â€œOn Saturday, April 29 2017, the plaintiff held a press conference at the Government House Port Harcourt.
â€œAt the said press conference, the plaintiff unequivocally stated that the Inspector-General of Police, the defendant herein, either acting by himself or through persons acting on his orders and instructions which include his servants, agents or privies intend to raid the plaintiffâ€™s Abuja residence situated at Ortega Close, off Hassan Usman Katsina Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja and search same.
â€œThe intendment of the raid according to the plaintiffâ€™s press conference is to incriminate him in an unspecified crime through the recovery of huge sums of money, firearms and expensive wristwatches.
â€œThe plaintiffâ€™s press conference received wide publicity in the print and electronic media, and was published by The Nation and Vanguard Newspapers.
â€œThe plaintiff, Wike, informed me at his residence situate at Ortega Close, Hassan Usman Katsina Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja at about 8p.m. on May 1, 2017 and I do believe him that the contents of the newspaper report as to what he said is true save for the statement â€˜He provided no proof.â€™
â€œI was further informed by the plaintiff at his residence situated at Ortega Close, Hassan Usman Katsina Street, Asokoro Extension, Abuja at about 8p.m. on May 1, 2017 and, I do believe him, that he knows on good authority that the defendants had commenced the process of either applying for, or are in the process of obtaining, or have already obtained a search warrant to be executed at either his aforementioned residence or some other residence of his in Port Harcourt, Rivers State
â€œI know as a fact that a search warrant is a process of Court. I also know that the plaintiff or his privy is obligated to be present during the conduct of the search at his premises. I further know as a fact that the owner of a building is obligated to give unhindered access to his premises to the defendants while the defendants are executing a search warrant.
â€œIf not restrained by an order of the court, the defendants shall proceed to execute the said search warrant. The plaintiff at the place and time hereinbefore stated informed me, and I do believe him that: He has not committed any criminal offence; he is vested with constitutional immunity; the actions of the defendant shall violate his constitutional immunity; the defendants are witch hunting him to silence him and tarnish his hard-earned reputation.
â€œThe defendants shall lose nothing if this application is granted. I make the depositions herein in good faith believing the facts stated herein to be true and in accordance with the Oaths Act.â€