Abuja – An FCT High Court will on July 21 rule whether or not the court has jurisdiction to entertain Dino Melaye’s suit alleging disruption of “Bring back our Girls’’ rally.
Justice Abubakar Talba on Tuesday fixed the date at the resumed hearing of the case filed by Melaye against the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, and another.
Melaye is challenging the alleged disruption of the rally he led in Abuja on May 9, to press for the release of the abducted school girls in Chibok, Borno.
In the fundamental rights’ enforcement suit, Melaye had alleged that the police manhandled and arrested him and forcefully dispersed the other peaceful protesters.
At the resumed hearing of the case, Counsel to the Police, Mr Simon Lough, raised objection to an earlier ruling of the court.
Lough argued that the court had no jurisdiction to entertain the case in the first instance and that the earlier ruling against his client was made in error.
He contended that the FCT Court, as a State High Court, had no jurisdiction to entertain cases involving federal institutions like the police.
The counsel urged the judge to decline jurisdiction in the case and hold that his earlier ruling was a nullity.
Talba had held that “the police lacked the powers to prevent or stop rallies or processions being held in respect of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
“The Public Order Act, Cap 382 Laws of Nigeria 1990, which the police purportedly relied on, does not authorise men of the NPF to disrupt rallies or procession on the issue of the abducted Chibok girls.’’
Talba had declared unconstitutional, the arrest of and assault on Melaye, a former House of Representatives member, during the rally in Abuja.
“The arrest of the applicant and the threat to further arrest him in respect of rallies or procession is unlawful.
“The disruption of peaceful rallies and procession by agents of the inspector-general of police and Mohammed Abubakar is illegal and unconstitutional,’’ he held.
The judge also held that since the respondents failed to file any counter affidavit to the suit, they were deemed to have admitted the allegations made against them by the applicant.
He had awarded N150,000 as damages against the respondents in favour of Melaye.
The judge had also ordered the respondents to “tender a written apology’’ to the applicant in a national newspaper.
Talba had also granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the respondents and their agents from further “harassing, molesting, intimidating, abducting, arresting, detaining and prosecuting the applicant’’. (NAN)