‘Why police didn’t prosecute Tinubu for alleged forgery’
Inspector General of Police (IGP), Alikali Baba Usman, has told a Federal High Court in Abuja that presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has no pending petition or criminal matter with the force.
He stressed that the former governor of Lagos State is not a suspect and could not be put on trial. Reasons why the police under Usman’s watch did not go after Tinubu were contained in an affidavit filed at the court by their counsel, Wisdom Emmanuel Madaki.
In a counter-affidavit to a suit instituted by a civil society group, Incorporated Trustees of Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy, seeking an order of mandamus to compel the IGP to arrest and prosecute Tinubu for alleged perjury and certificate forgery, the police chief maintained that the force has no power to prosecute the politician without any known offence.
Although the affidavit claimed that Tinubu has no pending petition before the police, Usman, however, admitted receiving two different petitions from the CSO requesting the presidential standard-bearer’s trial for the reported criminal charges.
He explained that the two petitions were predicated on allegations that had been adjudicated upon by the Supreme Court in 2002 in a suit filed by the late human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN).
The sworn statement averred that since the alleged perjury and certificate forgery had been resolved by the apex court, there was no need for the police to reopen the matter.
Besides, the IGP said the force does not need any court order to make arrest and prosecute since it derives its powers from the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and statutes.
Usman, therefore, asked the court to dismiss the suit for want of merit and jurisdiction. Specifically, the IGP submitted that the suit is frivolous, vexatious and undeserving of attention of the court.
However, at yesterday’s proceedings, counsel to the plaintiff, Eme Kalu Ekpu, informed Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo that the counter-affidavit had just been served on him, adding that he needed time to go through and respond formally.
He, subsequently, requested for a short adjournment to enable him react to the counter-affidavit properly.
In a brief ruling, Justice Ekwo granted the request and fixed January 19, 2023 for hearing of the suit.
The applicant had dragged the IGP before the court over his alleged refusal to prosecute Tinubu over allegations of perjury.
The suit, dated and filed on July 4 on behalf of the group in Abuja by Mike Nwankwo, has the Nigeria Police Force and IGP as first and second respondents.
The CSO said the legal action was necessitated by the IGP’s refusal to take action on its petitions against Tinubu over an offence it claimed the presidential candidate was indicted by the Lagos State House of Assembly in 1999.
The plaintiff maintained that by virtue of Sections 214 and 215 of the Constitution and Section 4 of the Nigerian Police Act, 2020, the police have the statutory responsibility to “prevent, detect and investigate criminal allegations whether brought to their notice by individuals, person or persons, corporate bodies, institutions etc.”
Consequently, the applicant, in the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1058/2022, is asking the court for: “An order of mandamus compelling the respondents to comply with Sections 31 and 32 of the Police Act and Section 3 of the Criminal Justice Act, 2015 in respect of alleged crime laid out in complaint of the applicant encapsulated in the letter of June 16, 2022 received by the respondents on the same date and titled: Demand for Criminal Prosecution of Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu under Sections 191,192 and 463 of the Criminal Code Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 Consequent upon the Findings of the Lagos State House of Assembly Ad hoc Committee, 1999.”
The petitioner claimed that by Section 31 of the Nigerian Police Act, the respondents are duty bound to investigate alleged crime brought to them and report their findings to Attorney General of the Federation or of a state, as the case may be, for legal advice.