Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja has directed the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Senators Dino Melaye and Ben Murray-Bruce to immediately honour the police invitation over their roles in the October 5, 2018, Abuja street protest by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce were part of the PDP leaders who led the protest which was held a few days after last year’s governorship election in Osun State.
The opposition party leaders had protested what they described as the collusion of the police and other security agencies with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to rig the earlier governorship election in Ekiti State and the later held in Osun State.
The senators had led the protest to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC’s) office in Abuja, demanding for free and fair elections in 2019.
They were heading to the Force Headquarters when policemen dispersed them with teargas.
In his ruling yesterday, the court dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Saraki, Melaye and Murray-Bruce, who were invited by the police to answer questions on the protest.
The senators had sought the court’s order nullifying the October 6 and 8, 2018 letters of invitation sent to them by the police.
In their suit filed on October 8, 2018, the lawmakers claimed that the police invitation amounted to harassment, intimidation and an attempt by the police to detain them unlawfully.
They prayed for, among other things, the court’s declaration that the act of the police in dispersing the procession with tear gas was a violation of their rights, and sought an order awarding them N500million as “exemplary and pecuniary damages.”
But Justice Abang, in his judgment yesterday, upheld the defence of the police by dismissing the applicants’ suit for lacking in merit and awarded N50,000 as cost against the three applicants.
He held that a mere invitation by the police, who 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 the suspects for questioning.
He, therefore, ruled that the police invitation extended to them remained valid and subsisting, adding that it was the outcome of honouring it that would determine if their rights had been violated.
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