A Federal High Court, Abuja on Friday nullified the directive of Governor Abba Yusuf of Kano State to review the state Attorney-General’s legal advice on the alleged murder case earlier preferred against Representative Alhassan Doguwa (APC-Kano).
Justice Donatus Okorowo also awarded a N25 million damages against Yusuf for causing psychological pain and damage to Doguwa.
Justice Okorowo also gave “an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the respondents from further interfering with the fundamental rights of the applicant whatsoever”.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Doguwa, who represents Doguwa/Tundun Wada Federal Constituency of Kano State, was on February 28, 2023 arrested at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, while boarding a flight to Abuja.
The police had said they received a report that he led thugs to set ablaze the secretariat of the New Nigeria People’s Party in Kano.
Two persons were said to have died in the incident.
Although the legislator denied any wrongdoing, he was arraigned in March at a Magistrate Court in Kano and was later remanded in prison.
He was granted bail in the sum of N500 million by a FHC, Kano after a few days in prison.
However, the charges were withdrawn after the prosecution said it could not “find sufficient evidence to link Doguwa with the said offences”.
But the lawmaker, through his lawyer, Afam Osigwe (SAN), filed a fresh suit, marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/831/23, to seek for an order enforcing his fundamental rights before the Abuja court, following a hint about an attempt to rearrest him.
In the suit, the lawmaker sued the Attorney-General of the Federation, Inspector-General of Police, Governor of Kano State and A-G as 1st to 4th defendants respectively.
Doguwa had sought the protection of the court against alleged plan by the state government to rearrest and detain him in connection with the electoral violence that ensued during the presidential and National Assembly elections, leading to the death of some people in the state.
Justice Okorowo had on June 20, 2023 ordered the parties in the suit to maintain status pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The order followed an ex-parte motion moved by Osigwe.
But the governor and the A-G, in their counter affidavit argued by their lawyer, M. K. Umar, said that Doguwa was not being invited because of the violence that erupted during the February 25, 2023 presidential and National Assembly elections in Kano or on the firearm issue.
Umar said contrary to Osigwe’s argument, Doguwa was wanted in Kano to answer to the allegation of homicide preferred against him by the state government.
The lawyer said there were emerging new facts which needed to be investigated and that the A-G had the power to review the case in the wake of the emerging facts.
But Osigwe disagreed with Umar, stating that the police report on the incident, attached as Exhibit 10, exonerated his client of any wrongdoing.
The senior lawyer, who alleged political witch-hunt against Doguwa, said his fundamental right as enshrined in the law was threatened by the 3rd and 4th respondents.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Okorowo agreed with the plaintiff that it was the same offence from which the lawmaker was exonerated that the governor and the A-G planned to review.
Quoting from the exhibit, the judge said the police (2nd respondent in the suit) stated that they “cannot not find sufficient evidence to link Doguwa with those offences and that the allegation that he killed the victims cannot be substantiated”.
He said while the court did not doubt the powers of the A-G to review a case, the court would not allow using constitutional means to achieve an unconstitutional purpose.
According to the judge, the attempt to rearrest the lawmaker contravenes Section 46 of the constitution.
Justice Okorowo held: “It is hereby declared that the purported action of the 3rd and 4th respondents 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 2nd respondent (I-G) is illegal, unlawful, wrongful, unconstitutional and void.
“It amounts to an infraction of the applicant’s 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, 2023, in so far as the respondents do proffer fresh evidence against the applicant.
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“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents from further interfering with the fundamental rights of the applicant whatsoever.
“An order of this honourable court is hereby granted nullifying the purported 3rd respondent directive to review the fourth respondent legal advice dated May 23, 2023, with a view to arrest the applicant.
“General damages of N25 million only against the 3rd respondent only for causing the psychological pain and damage to the applicant.”