A public interest lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, on Thursday, faulted the prosecution of Senator Isa Misau by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), saying it smells of politics.
He regretted that instead of the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and the Police Service Commission (PSC) to respond to the concerns of a Senator of the Federal Republic, “they chose to first defame him by calling him a deserter and now a politically motivated criminal action.”
Olajengbesi in a statement issued in Abuja said charging him to court had betrayed public sensibilities and confidence on the anti-corruption stance of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “Where is the report of a neutral panel set up to look into the allegations of the Senator. I make bold to state that it amounts to seating logic on its head to permit the Nigeria Police to constitute a panel and look into its own corruption issues.
“It insults the sacrosanct principle of Nemo Judex in causa sua, translated, no man can be a judge in his case. It’s nonsensical to think the Police can probe itself, so the panel setup cannot be valid. What we are seeing is simply political persecution which will not succeed.
“One would want to ask, as every reasonable and objective person will, between the reputation of the IGP and the collective wealth of 180 million Nigerians which is of utmost importance to the state. The implication of this is that the charge is baseless and a compromise of the President Buhari’ s fight against corruption.”
According to him, as a legal practitioner, he knew that it remained the sole discretion and obligation of the AGF to institute and prosecute any person who he reasonably believed or suspected to have violated the nation’s penal laws, particularly with respect to Federal offenses or those committed within the FCT.
Olajengbesi, however, said in the exercise of that power the AGF was obliged by the constitution to place and prioritize national interest above every other factor.
“The allegations raised against the person of the IGP should have first been investigated by an independent body other than the Police being an interested party or on the other hand the IGP should be made to resign so as to give the other officers of the Police Force the leverage to conduct a proper and unbiased investigation”, he stated.
The lawyer said the allegations against Senator Misau should have been “backed with compelling evidence sourced after a thorough investigation.”
He said, “One would have thought that the proper and most acceptable thing that should have been done was the clarification of the allegations as it affects the totality of the Nigeria state.
“Is the current development a justification that there is no corruption in the Nigeria Police Force? Justice, as stated in a plethora of authorities, is not a one-way thing, it rather is justice to the state, society and the victim. We, therefore, call in the interest of justice to all that the charges be forthwith discontinued and a proper investigation lodged into the allegations so raised.
“A careful examination of the charge itself will reveal a liquidated attempt by the Federal government through the office of the Attorney-General to render abstract the real issues in controversy and sweep the significant investigation under the carpet.
“First, Section. 393(1) of the Penal Code deals with publication of false statement of facts which are made by the accused with the intention of simply injuring the character of the complainant.
“Before a statement of fact can be categorized as false, the onus of the relevant bodies to conduct thorough investigations to identify whether there is a scintilla of truth therein. The exception to section 393 that the statement must have a substance of truth, in which case, no offense committed.
“Unfortunately, instead of the Office of the IGP and the PSC responding to the concerns of a well-meaning senator of the Federal Republic, they chose to first defame him by calling him a deserter and now a politically motivated criminal action.”