Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mr. Solomon Arase, yesterday dismissed as ridiculous, laughable and mere waste of time of the court, a suit filed by Senator Gilbert Nnaji, seeking to stop the police from probing the purported forgery of the 2015 Senate Standing Order which produced Senators Bukola Saraki and Ike Ekweremadu as leaders of the Senate in the 8th National Assembly.
Arase, while responding to the suit, yesterday, through a counter-affidavit, said no court of law in Nigeria has powers to stop the police from performing its statutory functions of investigating crimes, including the instant purported forgery of the Senate Standing Rules.
The IGP had wondered whether anybody in the country, including the 74 political office holders covered by provision of section 308 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), is immune from investigation.
He specifically argued that the principal officers of the Senate, including Senators Saraki and Ekweremadu, among others, which the suit sought to protect have no constitutional or statutory immunity from investigation.
He consequently urged an Abuja Federal High Court to throw out the suit for want of jurisdiction, adding that investigating the allegation of forgery in the Senate could only strengthen the integrity of the upper legislative house and its leadership.
Confirming that the Senate Standing Order 2015 (as amended) was forged, the police stated in its counter affidavit thus: “The present Senate has not enacted any standing orders yet.
“As at the time of inauguration of this present Senate, no standing orders had been made.
“Till date, no such standing orders have so far been made.
“The practice is that at inauguration, the incoming Senate uses the standing orders of the preceding Senate. The immediate past Senate did not amend the 2011 standing orders and the 2011 standing orders have not yet been amended.”
The document, which was deposed to by Joshua Yohanna, of the Legal/ Prosecution department, Force CIID, further averred as follows:
“I know that the plaintiff cannot prove that the so called 2015 standing orders were passed by the preceding Senate. “That the so called 2015 standing orders were never made nor passed by the immediate past Senate.
The plaintiff knows that the present Senate President was not in a position to have passed the 2015 Senate Standing orders before its inauguration.
“The plaintiff knows that it is only after inauguration that the current Senate could pass the Senate standing orders.
“That what he is bandying about is not an authorised Senate standing order.”
Accordingly, the police urged the court presided by Justice Gabriel Kolawole to throw out the suit as it simply constituted a nuisance.
The IGP, in his memorandum of conditional appearance filed by Elder David Abuo attacked the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit as well as the locus standi of the plaintiff to file the action.
Relying on the case of Hassan V EFCC (2014) 1 NWLR (pt. 1389), the lawyer submitted “no court has the power to stop the investigation powers of the Police or EFCC or any agency established, under our laws to investigate crimes whether there is reasonable suspicion of commission of crime or ample evidence of commission of an offence by a suspect.”
Besides, the police argued that the matter at hand raise issues of criminality and the police owe Nigerians the duty to unearth the truth behind the allegations of forgery
In addition, Abuo contended that the plaintiff had not shown what he had suffered or lost in this action as he is neither the Senate President nor Deputy Senate President.
He said apart from that, he is not an officer of the Senate. It further argued that every Nigerian citizen could be investigated for crime as there is no immunity against investigation in all civilized countries, Nigeria inclusive.
Earlier, counsel to the plaintiff, Peter Nwakolo, told the court that he needed time to respond to the notice of preliminary objections filed by the Arase as well as the application for joinder.
Secretary of the “Unity Forum” who signed the petition to the police, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi had earlier applied to be joined in the suit as an interested party.
His motion dated August 3, 2015 was filed by his counsel, Mamman Osuman, SAN, pursuant to orders 9 rule 15 (1); order 26 rule 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the Federal High Court, Civil Procedure, Rules 2009.
In the application, Hunkuyi submitted that as a member of the current 8th Senate and the initiator of the petition, he has sufficient interest in the suit to entitle him to be joined as a defendant.
Osuman submitted: “Where an applicant seeking to be joined as a party in a proceedings establishes that he/it has an interest in the subject matter of an action and/or in the eventual result or outcome of such an action, the application for joinder ought to be granted as per the Supreme Court decision in Ige vs Farinde (1994) 7 1NWLR (pt. 354) 42 at page 65.”
In his ruling, Justice Kolawole who said he could not make an order for status quo to be maintained, because it could be misinterpreted adjourned proceedings to September 8, 2015 when it would be heard by another judge of the court, Justice Adeniyi Ademola