The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, ordered the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Murray-Bruce to immediately honour the invitation for questioning over their roles in the October 5, 2018 street procession staged in Abuja by the Peoples Democratic Party.
The three senators were part of the PDP leaders who led the protest which held some days after last year’s governorship election in Osun State was declared to have been won by the All Progressives Congress.
Alleging that the security agencies, including the Police, colluded with the APC to rig the earlier governorship election in Ekiti State and the one later held in Osun, the senators had led a protest to the Independent National Electoral Commission’s office in Abuja, demanding a free and fair election in 2019; and were on their way to the Force 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 answer questions in relation to the protest.
The senators had sought the court’s order nullifying the October 6 and 8, 2018 letters of invitation by the Police.
They had also, in their suit filed on October 8, 2018, 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 various rights, and sought an order awarding them N500m as “exemplary and pecuniary damages.”
Justice Abang, in his judgment on Thursday, upheld the case made out by 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.
Abang ruled, “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.”