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Court restrains commissions’s inquiry into political killings in Rivers

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AMAECHI

Rotimi Amaechi

A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt has issued an interim order restraining the commission of inquiry on political killings in the state capital from going ahead with its probe. Governor Chibuike Amaechi had set up the commission headed by the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu and eight others, following the murder of former chairman of Ogba-Egbeme-Ndoni local council, Mr. Christopher Adube, his three children and several others at Obrikom.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State had in suit no: FHC/PH/FHR/256/2015, asked the court to declare the commission of inquiry on politically motivated killings in the state set up by Governor Amaechi, as unconstitutional and violation of the principles of natural justice.

The party argued that by virtue of the provisions of section 214 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and section 4 of the Police Act, the power to investigate allegations of crime, including inquiring into politically motivated killings in the country is vested in the police.

The presiding judge, Justice H.A. Nganjiwa, yesterday gave an order restraining the “Respondents from taking further steps in connection with the sitting of the commission of inquiry instituted by the 10th Respondent (Governor Chibuike Amaechi) pending the determination of the motion on notice for interlocutor injunction.

“That in view of the urgency attached to this matter, time is of essence, the court has abridged the time for the respondents to file their response within three days upon service,” he said. Respondents in the suit are Governor Amaechi, Chairman of the commission, Professor Odinkalu, Sir Samuel Egbe, secretary and Professor Nlerum Okogbule, Professor Owunari A. Georgewill, Dr. Richard Ofuru, Mrs. Asivosuo M. Oriye, Dr. Joy Ejiofor, Mrs. Ayo M. O. Obe, and Rev. Father Michael Akiri. Others are Attorney General of the state, Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police in the state.

The commission, which started receiving memorandum from affected persons in the state was due to commence sitting next Monday. However, Justice Nganjiwa adjourned the matter to May 6 for hearing.

“That the matter is adjourned to 6th day of May, 2015 for hearing of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction,” he said. PDP in the suit prayed the court to restrain the commission or its members from investigating any alleged politically motivated killings, as that was the primary responsibility of the police.

It argued that the first respondent, Odinkalu, is not fit to be the chairman of the body because he already had foreknowledge of the subject matter of the purported inquiry having reportedly heard allegations and counter-allegations of the various parties in the state relating to political violence and killings in his capacity as chairman of the National Human Rights Commission.

The party said, “He (Odinkalu) cannot come to the task of presiding as Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry in this case with neutrality and impartiality necessary as an arbiter.”

The party also stressed that the 2nd respondent, Sir Samuel Egbe, is also not fit to be a member of the commission “because he was allegedly appointed Permanent Secretary in the state civil service by the 10 respondent who is Governor Amaechi.”

Adding further that the 6th respondent Mrs. Asivosuo Oriye, is an employee of the state Ministry of Justice under the supervision and control of the governor and the 11 respondent, the Attorney General of the state, so she was also not fit to serve in the commission.”

QUOTE The party argued that by virtue of the provisions of section 214 of the 1999 Constitution as amended and section 4 of the Police Act, the power to investigate allegations of crime, including inquiring into politically motivated killings in the country is vested in the police.


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