SUPREME COURT ON INVESTIGATION AND FREEZING OF ASSETS: Now read the Fawehinmi V. I.G.P. (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 767) 606



 Delivering the leading judgment of the seven-man panel of the Supreme Court on Friday 10th day of May, 2002 on whether a governor can be investigated, Justice S.O. Uwaifo, J.S.C (as he then was), held inter alia: "That a person protected under section 308 of the 1999 constitution, going by its provisions, can be investigated by the police for an alleged crime or offence is, in my view, beyond dispute. To hold otherwise is to create a monstrous situation whose manifestation may not be fully appreciated until illustrated. I shall give three possible instances. Suppose it is alleged that a Governor, in the course of driving his personal car, recklessly ran over a man, killing him; he sends the car to a workshop for the repairs of the dented or damaged part or parts. Or that he used a pistol to shoot a man dead and threw the gun into a nearby bush. OR THAT HE STOLE PUBLIC MONEY AND KEPT IT IN A PARTICULAR BANK or used it to acquire property. Now, if the police became aware, could it be suggested in an open and democratic society like ours that they would be precluded by section 308 from investigating to know the identity of the man killed, the cause of death from autopsy report, the owner of the car taken to the workshop and if there is any evidence from the inspection of the car that it hit an object recently, more particularly a human being; or to take steps to recover the gun and test for ballistic evidence; and generally to take statements from eye witnesses of either incident of killing. OR TO FIND OUT (IF POSSIBLE) ABOUT THE MONEY LODGED IN THE BANK or for acquiring property, AND TO GET PARTICULARS OF THE ACCOUNT AND THE SOURCE OF THE MONEY; or of the property acquired? The police clearly have a duty under section 4 of the Police Act to do all they can to investigate and preserve whatever evidence is available. The evidence or some aspect of it may be the type which might be lost forever if not preserved while it is available...

Culled from Okoi Obono-obla 

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