A Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, granted a fundamental right suit filed by the House of Representatives member, Alhassan Doguwa, which sought an order restraining the Kano State governor, Abba Yusuf, from reopening a murder case against him.
The murder case concerned the reported violence in the state during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
In his suit marked ‘FHC/ABJ/CS/831/23’, Doguwa through his lawyer, Afam Osigwe, SAN, cited seven grounds of application and sought the enforcement of his fundamental rights against state actors on account that he led irate thugs to burn down the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) office in Kano, resulting in over half a dozen deaths according to the Police.
THE WHISTLER recalls that he was declared wanted by the police and subsequently arrested at the Kano airport on February 28 as he tried to flee the state to Abuja.
The lawmaker was subsequently arraigned in court on various charges bordering on arson, criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide, causing grievous hurt, mischief by fire, and inciting disturbance, according to the Kano State Commissioner of Police, CP Muhammad Yakubu.
But on May 25, 2023, the Kano State’s Attorney General, and Commissioner for Justice, Musa Lawan, told reporters that the government, having studied the Investigative report of the Nigeria Police Force on the matter, decided to drop the murder charge against the lawmaker.
Lawan had said the decision was based on the contradicting witness statements about the allegations against Doguwa.
“After scrutiny, we cannot establish a murder charge against Alhassan Ado Doguwa and other accomplices including the police officers whose ammunition was intact after the incident.
“By law, if you have a contradiction in evidence against a suspect, you can pick the one that exonerates him against the ones that have contradictions, this made us to arrived that we cannot charge them in court.
“Only five suspects who have confessed to having burned the NNPP office will be court charged,” Mr Lawan had said.
But in the suit at the Abuja Division of the FHC, the lawmaker sued the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the Inspector General of Police, the Kano State governor Abba Yusuf and his AG (1st to 4th defendants) seeking among other reliefs, an order restraining the state government from ordering his re-arrest in connection to the unsavoury development in Kano state.
Doguwa said despite the police exonerating him from allegations associated with the election, the governor was making moves to review the said police report and come up with unsubstantiated reasons to direct his rearrest, detention and prosecution.
Before Justice Donatus Okorowo, Osigwe tendered the police report as part of his exhibits (Exhibit 10) against the counter affidavit filed by counsel to the governor and the state’s Attorney-General (A-G), M. K. Umar.
But Umar argued that Doguwa should not obtain a perpetual injunction restraining the police from further investigating criminal allegations against him.
He stated reasons the government opted to proceed with prosecuting Doguwa, adding that the applicant’s narrative of exoneration did not reflect the true picture of what transpired in Kano.
Umar argued that police authorities tendered another police report which accused the lawmaker of alleged criminal conspiracy, and culpable homicide.
More so, Umar said the first police investigation report on the issue “was not an exoneration but a legal opinion” at that time, adding new facts were emerging from security agencies.
Umar contended that the police’s second report indicted the applicant and others thereby paving the way for them to be investigated for criminal allegations.
But Doguwa replied to the AG that the submissions of the Kano State government were baseless because the first police investigative report had exonerated him.
Passing his judgement on Friday, Justice Donatus Okorowo observed from Exhibit 10 (police report) that the police stated “no bullet was recovered at the scene of the crime.”
The report, as cited by the judge, stated that the “allegation that he (Doguwa) killed people by whatever means could not be substantiated.”
He noted that the police report also stated “there is no clear evidence that anybody suffered bullet wounds.”
The court held the Kano state governor and his AG had not tendered any fresh evidence to warrant the applicant’s prayer not being granted.
Justice Okorowo subsequently agreed with the applicant that the Kano State government’s move to arrest the applicant without justification was a contravention of his fundamental rights.
“It is hereby declared that the purported action of the third and fourth respondent to review the legal advice dated 23rd May 2023 and indeed the actual review of the legal advice dated May 23, 2023, with a view to arrest, detain, and prosecute the applicant on a fathom charge and without regards to the report of the second respondent contained in the letter with reference number CB:3510/KSX/VO4/200 dated May 18, 2023 and attached case diary, is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional and void and amount to an infraction of the applicants Constitutional right to human dignity, personal liberty and freedom of movement.
“An order of perpetual injunction is hereby granted restraining the respondents, themselves, and by agents, howsoever described from further inviting, arresting or detaining the applicant with a view to review the 4th respondent legal advice dated 23 May insofar as the respondents do proffer fresh evidence against the applicant.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further interfering with the fundamental rights of the applicant whatsoever.
“An order of this Honorable court is hereby granted nullifying the purported third respondent directive to review the fourth respondent’s legal advice dated May 23 with a view to arrest the applicant.
“General damages of N25 million only against the third respondent only for causing psychological pain and damage to the applicant,” the judge held.