By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo
Oyo State High Court sitting in Ibadan has dismissed a fundamental rights’ enforcement suit filed by Akere family of Ibadan, against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and two others.
The trial judge, A. S. Bolaji, in a ruling, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit, and also, awarded cost of N200, 000, against each of the six applicants in favour of the respondents.
The judge also ordered the applicants to honour police invitation extended to them. The applicants, Fasasi Titiloye Akere; Lamidi Wintola Akere; Wasiu Okunola Akere; Suliat Okunola Akere; Ismaila Okunola Akere and Tunde Akere, had dragged the IGP; Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Force CID, Alagbon-Ikoyi, Lagos, and Moshood Gbolagade Akere before the court in a suit marked M/380/2019.
In the suit, the applicants had asked the court for an order declaring their invitation by the officers of the first and second respondents at the behest of the third respondent as unlawful, legally unnecessary and setting same aside for being unwarranted.
They also asked court for an order restraining the first and second respondents whether by themselves, their officers, servants or agents from further inviting, arresting and/or detaining them at the behest of the third respondent.
They also asked the court for an order restraining the first and second respondents whether by themselves, their officers, servants or agents from harassing, intimidating, arresting or threatening the applicants with arrest and detention.
Responding to the applicants’ suit, the respondents through their counsel, Mr. Morufu Animashaun, had asked the court to dismiss the suit and asked the applicants to submit themselves for investigation for the criminal complaint made against them.
IGP and others in an affidavit deposed to by Obagbalu Austine, a Deputy Superintendent of Police attached to the General Investigation Department (GID) Force FCID, Alagbon, lkoyi, Lagos, stated that sometime on March 22, 2019, a petition dated March 21, 2019 was received by the IGP from Beyioku Akere family relating to criminal complaints of attempt to commit murder, threatened violence, impersonation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace against the applicants.
The deponent stated that by a referral letter dated March 25, 2019 with reference number CB: 7000/1GP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.437/782, IGP directed the DIG to carry out a discreet investigation of the complaint, adding that by a referral letter dated April 15, 2019 with reference number CB:7000/X/FHQ/ABJ/VOL 491/380, the DIG directed the AIG Force Criminal Investigation Department Annex, Lagos to investigate the criminal complaints contained in the petition.
He stated that by referral letter dated May 10, 2019 with reference number CB:7000/X/ADM/ANNEX/VOL 48/05, the DIG through the AIG directed the Commissioner of Police Force CID Annex, Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos to carry out a discreet investigation and he was detailed as the Investigating Police Officer to investigate the criminal complaints contained in the petition.
The deponent stated that contrary to the applicants’ depositions that they were arrested on frivolous allegations, findings reveal that upon receipt of a petition relating to impersonation and malicious damage to property received by State Criminal Investigation Department, lyanganku, Ibadan, the applicants were invited and a thorough investigation was carried out and a five counts charge was filed at the Magistrate Court 4, Okeho, Ibadan on December 6, 2018 in Charge number M/1687C/2018 before Chief Magistrate Salami, where the first, second, third, fourth and fifth applicants were arraigned and admitted to bail.
Austine further stated that in the course of investigation, he found out that after the installation of one Alhaji Mogaji Moshood as Mogaji Akere family by Olubadan, one Olayiwola Akeem Olalekan was brutally attacked by the applicants and admitted at University College Hospital, Ibadan.
He swore that as the Investigating Police Officer, who investigated criminal complaints of attempt to commit murder, threatening violence, impersonation and conducts likely to cause breach of peace against the applicants, he found out in the course of investigation that there was never a time the applicants were threatened of arrest, neither was there any time IGP X Squad, Jericho, Ibadan nor any formation of the Nigeria Police informed the applicants nor issued any investigation report, adding that the complaints against the applicants were civil in nature.
He averred that investigation revealed that the third respondent was installed as Mogaji and Head of Beyioku Akere Family by Olubadan-in-Council through a letter with reference number HIM/SAOA/1/16 dated December 19, 2016, by His Imperial Majesty Alayeluwa Oba Saliu Akanmu Olasupo Adetunji, Aje Ogungunniso 1 Olubadan of Ibadanland.
He added that investigation revealed that after the confirmation of the appointment of the third respondents by the monarch, the applicants resorted to violence and brutally attacked supporters of the third respondent, inflicted grievous injuries on one Olayiwola Akeem Olalekan, leading to his being admitted at University College Hospital Ibadan and a petition was sent to the police for the investigation of the culprits.
The deponent stated that investigation further revealed that rather than abide by the contents of the ruling, the applicants continued to harass and intimidate the third respondent and as a result, the applicants were invited to respond accordingly to fresh petition against them.
But instead of honouring the invitation or comply with terms in the ruling of the Court by making appeal to the Governor of Oyo State as directed by Justice Eni Esan and as required under Section 22(4) Chiefs law of Oyo State 2000, the applicants had filed “this suit alleging a violation of fundamental rights.”
The deponent stated that the applicants were never arrested, detained nor tortured or subjected to any inhumane or degrading treatments by the first and second respondents and all the first and second respondents had done was to send invitation to applicants in the course of investigating criminal complaints contained in a petition it received against the applicants, who are yet to honour the invitation till date.
Austine stated that the third respondent is entitled to notify the first and second respondents of the criminal complaint of an attempt to commit murder, threatening of violence, impersonation and conduct likely to cause breach of peace against the applicants.
He added that the crimes committed or arising from the course of a family dispute to wit: attempt to commit murder and threatening violence are not civil claims, but criminal allegations, which ought to be investigated by the police.
He stated that the first and second respondents are empowered to investigate all crimes, including crimes relating to: family/chieftaincy titles dispute, attempt to commit murder, threatening violence and conduct likely to cause breach of peace.
He added that the main subject matter relates to chieftaincy title disputes and such action can not be entertained under Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009.
Austine stated that the applicants filed the suit to stall the investigation of criminal complaints against them and that it will be in the interest of justice, due process and fair hearing to direct the applicants to submit to investigation for the criminal complaints against them to be properly investigated and concluded.