Serving senator and former governor of Kwara State, Mr. Bukola Saraki, is in court this morning, Thursday, April 26, 2012 to argue that a mere police invitation amounts to the violation of his fundamental human rights.
If Justice Moni Olotu presiding at the Federal High Court 4 in Abuja agrees with him, she will grant him an injunction to restrain the Inspector General of Police, his officers and agents from arresting Mr. Saraki wanted by the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police over an N11 billion bank loan scam of which they believe he is a central character.
Judges are increasingly under pressure not to grant such orders and Public interest litigant, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, doubts that the court will give a nod to Mr. Saraki”s prayers because of the “serial admonishment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the National Judicial Council and the Chief Justice of Nigeria that High Courts restrain from granting frivolous orders of injunctions.”
Mr. Ogunye also reasons that Mr. Saraki’s resort to court as a response to a police invitation amounts to a dangerous precedence and an abuse of court process. He asked how a mere invitation of a Nigerian citizen to a police station transgresses the liberty and rights of such a citizen. “How does this mere invitation by the SFU to answer some questions mean an arrest? How does this not preempt the outcome of the police investigation?” queried Mr Ogunye.
For about a week now, the former governor played a cat and mouse game with the police not honouring an invitation that he suspects will amount to an arrest. His lawyer, Mr. Lawal Rabana filed the motion on notice to this effect on Tuesday. Last Friday, they set grounds to question Mr Saraki but the ex-governor sent in a late note seeking excuse to be absent because he claimed he had to attend the funeral rites of a close relation.
He promised, in the note, to show up on Monday but shunned the detectives again, now stunning them with the court move. “We were quietly watching his (Saraki’s) maneuverings but had taken note of his absence at the promised dates” SFU detectives told Premium Times before the news of the court filings reached them
Mr. Akintoba Fatigun, media aide to the former governor, in a statement, provides the motivation for Mr. Saraki’s court move, stating that his principal “has a responsibility to protect himself under the law against what increasingly appears a deliberate smear campaign designed to abridge his rights and muzzle his voice.”
Continuing, he said: “As a law-abiding citizen, Senator Saraki has decided to seek legal redress to put a stop to an orchestrated frenzy calculated at smearing his name, assaulting his dignity and intimidating his person through deliberately garbled accounts and serial leaks concerning loans granted to a company that he has no relationship with.”
However, Mr. Saraki’s chosen legal path appears to have buoyed the resolve of the police to interrogate him. The SFU, talking tough through its public affair offcer, Ngozi Isitunme, promised to challenge any order in court, adding that even if Mr. Saraki “has obtained a court injunction restraining us from arresting him, we will vacate the injunction and continue with the case.”
The police spokesperson was standing on Supreme Court precedents that a statutory law enforcement organisation cannot be restrained from investigating even if they could not temporarily prosecute public officers who enjoy constitutional immunity.