Protest: Honour Police Invitation, Court Tells Saraki, Melaye, Murray-Bruce

By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Murray-Bruce to immediately honour the invitation of the police over alleged attack on some policemen during the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) protest over the outcome of the Osun State governorship election on October 5, 2018.

Justice Abang gave the order in a judgment he delivered in a fundamental right suit filed by Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce.

The trio had in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/03/095/2018, prayed the Federal High Court in Abuja to declare that the harassment that was unleashed on them by the police during their peaceful protest on October 5, including the teargas that was fired at them, amounted to gross violation of their fundamental human rights.

They had also prayed the court to stop the Inspector General of Police (IG) and FCT Commissioner of Police from inviting them, harrassing and intimidating them over the incident.

But delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Abang held that the invitation by the police does not translate to breach of fundamental human rights of the applicants.

He accordingly dismissed the suit for lacking in merit and ordered the applicants to honour the police invitation without fail.

“The invitation of the applicants on the 6, 8 October 2018, remains valid and subsisting. The applicants should without fail report to police.

“The application lacks merit, therefore it failed. A cost of N50,000 is awarded against the applicants,” Abang held.

According to the judgment, the police has a constitutional responsibility to invite and interrogate any person, who is not covered by immunity, over suspected breach of the law.

The judge said by rushing to the court on mere invitation to file application on breach of fundamental human rights was against the constitutional role of the police.

“The applicants did not wait for infringement to occur before coming to court. They cannot by mere invitation say they are harassed, intimidated or denied their freedom of movement. The police were merely carrying out their constitutional duty.

“The police are constitutionally empowered to invite any person, who has no immunity for questioning.

“They ought to report to police on invitation, it is the outcome of the invitation that could be said to breach of fundamental human rights. The court cannot question the police on invitation, nor can the court restrain the police from their lawful role,” Abang said.

In sustaining the objection raised by the police against the application, Abang said the application was not supported by competent affidavit.

Aside this, the judge said the applicants ought to have deposed to affidavit each and personally, and not by a proxy as in the instant case.

“In this case, the three senators filed one suit. They didn’t file separate application nor deposed to any affidavit, which is required in fundamental human rights case.

“This is in breach of order 2 rule 4 of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure,” the judge held.

Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce had dragged the IG and FCT Commissioner of Police to court to stop the police from any attempt to arrest them for staging a protest to the National Headquarters of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and police headquarters, Abuja.

While the IG was cited as the first respondent in the matter, the Commissioner of Police in the FCT was sued as the second respondent.

The applicants were among leaders of the opposition PDP, who marched to the office of the electoral body to protest against the outcome of the Osun State governorship election.