Court Nullifies IGP’s Probe Panel On Rivers Election

file: Chairman of the probe panel, DCP Damian Okoo, presenting the report to IGP Ibrahim Idris on February 7, 2017. Photo Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Naij.com
File: Chairman of the probe panel, DCP Damian Okoo, presenting the report to IGP Ibrahim Idris on February 7, 2017. Photo Credit: Sodiq Adelakun/Naij.com

The federal high court, Abuja has nullified the panel set up by the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to investigate reports of violence and electoral malpractice during the legislative re-run election in Rivers State in December 2016.

Justice Gabriel Kolawole gave the ruling on Tuesday, saying the panel was unknown to any law in Nigeria.

It would be recalled that the rerun election in Rivers State was characterized by several incidences of violence and malpractice according to reports by local and foreign observers.

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A senior police officer was infamously beheaded alongside his security detail by a group of thugs during the election exercise.

IGP Idris subsequently set up panel to investigate the cases and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The panel, which included operatives of the Department of State Services, DSS, after its investigation, submitted a report which indicted the Rivers state government, specifically the Governor, Nyesom Wike, of being behind the violence.

It also paraded some officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, whom it alleged collected huge sums of money in bribes in order to influence the election result.

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Also, the panel displayed about N111 million which it claimed was recovered from the arrested INEC officials, being part of the bribe monies they collected from Governor Wike.

But Justice Kolawale in his ruling on Tuesday held that although the Police Act gave the police powers to carry out such investigations, it did not permit it to bring in another agency.

“Section 4 of the Police Act allows the Police to set up such a panel to carry out investigations, the section does not however, state that the police can carry out such an investigation with apparatus outside the force,” the judge said.

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He described the involvement of DSS personnel in the investigation as a “strange illegal contraption unknown to law”.

The Judge, however, refused to nullify the report of the panel as prayed by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike.

He noted that the report was not before him and as such he cannot take action on what was not before him.

Kolawole noted that the report of the panel, if it contained useful information, could be turned over to a proper body under the law.

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