Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
A Grade I Area Court in Aco Estate, Lugbe, Abuja, has ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to serve a summons on the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to compel him to face a criminal complaint initiated against him by a private lawyer in respect of the bloody bank robbery in which many died in Offa, Kwara State, earlier this year.
The criminal complaint was initiated by an Abuja-based lawyer and rights activist, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, whose lawyer told the court on Monday that the IGP had given assurance that the necessary court papers would be served on the Senate President.
The police had said their investigations linked Saraki to the kingpin of the robbery operation.
The Senate President is the sole defendant in the criminal complaint initiated by the private lawyer.
The criminal complaint marked, CR/196/2018, was said to have been initiated by Ojaomo under Section 89(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
It sought Saraki to be summoned for allegedly ignoring police invitation to answer to an allegation involving the investigation of the suspects of the Offa robbery.
The complaint stated that Saraki’s alleged refusal to honour the invitation amounted to obstructing a criminal investigation and disobeying a public officer carrying out a lawful responsibility.
This alleged conduct, it said, was an offence punishable under Section 136 and 149 of the Penal Code Law.
The judge handling the case at the Grade 1 Area Court, Aco Estate, Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Abdullahi Garuba Ogbede, had, on September 10 this year, ordered the issuance of a summons on Idris following Saraki’s absence from court.
On Monday, the complainant’s lawyer, Mr E. S. Marcus, said he was informed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Legal Unit of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja, identified as Mahmoud, that the IGP had directed the legal unit to ensure the prompt service of the court papers on Saraki before the next hearing date of October 3, 2018.
He said, “The defendant is not in court. At the last date, the court issued a witness summons on the IGP to come and show cause why the police failed to effect service of the criminal summons, warrant of arrest and other processes on the defendant.
“The witness summons was served on the Nigeria Police Force by the court’s registry.
“However, we received a call from DSP Mahmoud of the Legal Department of the Nigeria Police Force headquarters, that the matter has been assigned by the IGP to a particular unit of the NPF to effect the service of the summons on the defendant and arrest him.”
Marcus explained in court on Monday that his client, who was supposed to bear the responsibility of serving Saraki with the complaint, had to resort to seeking the IGP’s involvement in accordance with Section 122 of the ACJA, when it became difficult for him to serve the Senate President.
According to the lawyer, the Inspector-General of Police is required, under the law, to either produce the defendant in court or attend court to explain why the defendant was absent.
He then applied to the court to grant a short adjournment to enable the police to serve the processes on Saraki.
The judge, Ogbede, granted Marcus’ request and adjourned the case till October 3.
The criminal complaint against the Senate President read, “Criminal complaint brought pursuant to Section 89(5) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) 2015. Please, cause a summons for a direct criminal complaint on the defendant on the following terms:
“That you, Dr Bukola Saraki, on or about the 24th day of July, 2018 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did refuse to honour the invitation of the Inspector-General of the Nigeria Police Force to report at the police headquarters in FCT, Abuja to answer to an allegation involving the investigation of some criminal suspects involved in a case which the Nigeria Police Force is currently investigating, thereby obstructing a criminal investigation and disobeying a public officer carrying out a lawful responsibility.
“You thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 136 and 149 of the Penal Code Law, whereas, the complainant is praying the court to charge the defendant accordingly.” (Punch)