The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, has defended police investigation into the alleged forgery of the Senate Standing Orders 2015.
The police boss defended his action in a preliminary objection opposing a suit filed by Mr. Gilbert Nnaji, senator representing Enugu East in the National Assembly, asking the Federal High Court in Abuja to restrain the police and the Attorney-General of the Federation from taking any further step on the allegation.
Nnaji had filed the suit asking the court to stop the police investigation on the grounds that it “is inspired by a devious petition by the Secretary of the Unity Forum Senators, solely aimed at unjustly incriminating the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu.”
But the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the second defendant to the suit, had also filed a similar notice of preliminary objection, asking the court to strike out the suit, which it said ought to have been instituted by Ekweremadu, if truly the police investigation was meant to unjustly incriminate him.
In the preliminary objection filed by the counsel for the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Oloye Torugbene, the police asked the court to strike out the senator’s suit because the plaintiff lacked the legal right to institute the suit.
The police added that the forgery allegation raised “issues of criminality” and “not simply an issue on the floor” of the Senate.
They added that no Nigerian had immunity against investigation and that investigating alleged forgery could not amount to undue interference in the affairs of the Senate.
A counter-affidavit accompanying the preliminary objection and deposed to by an officer in the Legal/Prosecution Section of the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Abuja, Joshua Yohanna, stated that “Every Nigerian can be investigated for crime. There is no immunity against investigation in all civilised countries, Nigeria inclusive.
“Investigating the allegation of forgery can only strengthen the integrity of the Senate and the Senate leadership.”
The police urged the judge to strike out the suit because the plaintiff had not demonstrated that he had “special interest that is beyond that of every other senator.”
They insisted that they had a duty to investigate allegations of crimes and that their “duty will be impeded” if the court granted the prayers sought by the plaintiff.
The counter-affidavit also read, “The first defendant (the Inspector-General of Police) has a duty and responsibility to investigate all allegations of crime; to determine whether allegations of forgery are made out; who committed the said forgery; and if there is a forgery at all, in the first place.
“Investigating the allegations and determining the culpability or otherwise of the alleged culprits will lead to a just conclusion of the matter.
“Non-investigation of the allegations will engender mistrust amongst the disputing sides.
“The matter at hand is not simply an issue on the floor.
“The matter at hand raises issues of criminality.
“The first defendant (the Inspector-General of Police) owes Nigerians the duty to unearth the truth behind the allegations of forgery.”
The police maintained that the IGP had never taken side on the issue and would remain neutral. “The first defendant is neutral in this matter.
“The first defendant has not taken sides, will not take sides and does not take sides on issues of this nature at all.”
Justice Gabriel Kolawole on August 4 fixed September 8 for the hearing of an application filed by another Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi seeking to be joined as a defendant in the suit.
By Dike Onwuamaeze