A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has barred the Nigerian Police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC and the Department of State Security Service, (DSS) from searching houses belonging to Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers.
In 2017, Wike had approached the court seeking an order of injunction restraining the IGP, the Police, the EFCC and the DSS from obtaining a search warrant to search any of his houses.
Delivering judgement on the matter on Wednesday, May 16, Justice Ahmed Mohammed noted that the defendants were in agreement that the plaintiff, Wike, could not be investigated based on the provision of Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution.
Justice Mohammed said that from the combined reading of Section 308 of the constitution, and sections 149 and 150 of Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA) 2015, three situations had been prohibited.
The first, he said, was the provision that no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted against the plaintiff.
He further said that a 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.
Justice Mohammed maintained that parties in their submissions, lost the purport and intendment of section 308(1)(c) of the constitution.
According to him, a careful reading of section 308(1)(c) shows that the constitution has prohibited court process requiring the appearance of a serving governor before any investigative panel.
He held that the argument of the police and the EFCC that Wike’s residence could be searched without his presence was untenable.
The judge said it was wrong for the defendants to import meaning or interpretation not included in Section 308 of the constitution by the person who drafted the constitution.
He held that the essence of the section was to accord immunity to a serving governor so as not to cause distractions to the governor in the act of governance.
The judge dismissed the objections of the defendants and held that Wike’s suit had succeeded because it had merit.
Wike had asked for six reliefs but the judge granted three and said while one was not grantable, the others were embedded in the ones granted.
“The defendants cannot whether by themselves, their servants, agents, officers, privies or in any manner howsoever apply for, obtain, issue or in any way or manner howsoever execute any court process requiring; the appearance of the plaintiff who is currently the governor of Rivers.
“A declaration that by virtue of the combined effect of section 308 of the Constitution and sections 149 and 150 of ACJA, the defendants cannot in any manner apply for, obtain, issue or execute any search warrant at the residence of the plaintiff in Abuja or in any of the plaintiff’s residence in any other place or locations in Nigeria.
“An order that the defendants cannot by the combined effect of section 308 of the Constitution and sections 149 and 150 of ACJA, apply for, obtain, issue or execute any search warrant at the residence of the plaintiff in Abuja or in any of the plaintiff’s residence in any other place or locations in Nigeria.”
The suit was filed in June 2017 by Mr Sylva Ogwemoh, (SAN), on behalf of Wike.
Ogwemoh had argued that Section 308 which had to do with the immunity clause was put in place to allow serving governors concentrate on the act of governance.
But the defendants had in opposition, argued that they had the right to search Wike’s residence even in his absence.