Court Bars Police, EFCC, DSS From Searching Wike’s Homes
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday voided an alleged plan by the police to obtain a search warrant and execute same at the residences of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State in Abuja and other parts of the country.
In his ruling, Justice Ahmed Mohammed barred the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as the Department of State Services (DSS) from executing any search warrant on the matter.
Governor Wike had in a suit, marked ABJ/FHC/CS/383/2017 and filed on May 4, 2017, sued the IGP, police, EFCC and DSS as first to fourth defendants following moves by them to investigate him while still in office as a governor.
Justice Mohammad held that it was gratifying to note that the “parties are in agreement that the plaintiff cannot be investigated based on the provision of Section 308(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) notwithstanding anything to the contrary. It was the judgment of the court that a process such as a search warrant could not be issued a governor such as Wike who enjoys immunity under Section 308 of the constitution.”
He noted that the provision stipulates that no civil or criminal proceedings should be instituted against a person protected by the section. The jurist continued: “Secondly, the person covered by the provisions shall not be arrested, and thirdly, any process of court requiring appearance of a person protected under the provisions shall not be applied.”
The court held that “0a careful reading of Section 308(1)(c) shows that the constitution has prohibited a process requiring appearance of a serving governor before any investigative panel.” Justice Mohammed stated that the argument of the police and the EFCC that Wike’s residences could be searched without his presence was untenable.
The judge held that it was wrong for the defendants to import meaning or interpretation not included in the aforementioned section. Justice Mohammed, in dismissing the objection of the defendants, said the plaintiff was protected against litigation by law.
The court further held that the arguments of second and third defendants that enabling laws permit them to carry out investigations were untenable.In addition, the court noted that the essence of Section 308 was to accord immunity to a serving governor so as not to cause distractions in the course of governance.
Therefore, Justice Mohammed held that the suit succeeded and had merit. Consequently, he granted the prevailing reliefs against the defendants. The plaintiff’s counsel, Sylva Ogwemoh (SAN) had argued that the relevant was put in place to allow a serving governor to concentrate on governance.He had also insisted that based on Sections 149 and 150 of ACJA, his client must be present before a search warrant on his residence (s) could be executed.
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