‘Rivers police probe panel is illegal’

At St Pius X College, Bodo, scene of mayhem during the Rivers State rerun election

Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday declared the 15-man probe panel constituted by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Idris, to investigate the violence, killings, destruction of property and other criminal activities that took place during and after the December 10, 2016 National Assembly re-run election in Rivers State, illegal.

Delivering judgement on the suit filed by Rivers State government and Governor Nyesom Wike, in January, Justice Kolawole described the police panel as “unknown to law.”

According to him, the probe lacked constitutional backing. The court therefore held that the report of the panel was not valid and of doubtful source.

The judge held that it remained to be seen whether the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), would prosecute those indicted by the panel based on a report that is illegal.

“The police panel is unknown to Nigerian criminal justice system. It is a contraption. The said report is unknown to law and it’s validity to be used by the Attorney General of the Federation to press a charge is in great doubt,” the court said.

According Justice Kolawole, it was wrong for the IGP to constitute a police panel that had the Department of State Security as a member.

He noted that under Section 11 of Police Act, the IGP required presidential assent to delegate power to another prosecutorial agency.

In addition, the court stated that it would have quashed the report but for the fact that it was not pleaded before it.

The court also held that there was no merit in the second defendant’s (DSS) preliminary objection on grounds of jurisdiction, and it was consequently dismissed.


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