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Commission of Inquiry: Appeal Court okays Amaechi’s probe

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A Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, yesterday, gave the nod for  Rivers State Government to probe former governor of the state,  Chibuike Amaechi.

Amaechi had filed an appeal at the court to challenge his invitation to a judicial Commission of Inquiry, set up by Governor Nyesom Wike, to probe his administration.

Delivering the judgment, which lasted three and half hours, the presiding judge, Justice F. O. Omoleye, ruled in favour of the appellant (Amaechi) on one of his nine prayers, which was his locus standi to institute the legal action against the constitution of the judicial commission of inquiry.

Among the issues in contention were sale of state valued assets and agricultural loan. The judge said Amaechi failed to avail himself of the opportunity to be heard by the commission. Instead, he chose to go to court to challenge the constitution of the commission.

Dismissing the claim that Amaechi was denied right of fair hearing, the court said the appellant denied himself right of hearing, and added that he could not sit in his comfort zone and determine for the commission when to sit.

Justice Omoleye averred that there is no law which prohibits the governor from investigating a past governor. According to her, also, there is nothing wrong for the governor to constitute a panel of inquiry to investigate if assets belonging to the state were properly sold by the immediate past administration. The court also dismissed allegation of bias by Amaechi against the commission Chairman, Justice George Omereji. She said the appellant failed to establish his allegation of bias based on concrete evidence

Speaking to newsmen after the judgment, the state’s Attorney General, Emmanuel Aguma, said the implication of the judgment was that the recommendations of the commission of inquiry are valid and can be implemented. 

He expressed satisfaction that the Court of Appeal held that the commission was validly constituted.

Also speaking to newsmen, Wike’s lead counsel, Oladejo Lamikanra, said the court ruled in favour of his client by striking out all the reliefs sought for by the appellant, except one.

Justice Simeon Amadi of Rivers High Court dismissed the suit filed by former governor Amaechi challenging moves by Wike to probe his administration.

In his ruling, Justice Amadi said the commission, set up by Governor Wike to look into aspects of the administration of the former governor, was not established to investigate his personal life.

He ruled that Governor Wike was empowered by law to open the books of former governments in the state since the actions affected the lives of the people.

Also, Justice Amadi said the 30 days set aside for the commission to conclude its job did not in any way rob the former governor of fair hearing, noting that it could be extended.

He explained that since the governor had not filed any memorandum before the commission or appeared before it, he could not allege denial of right to fair hearing.

The court also ruled that the former governor was not on trial with the setting up of the commission, saying the terms of reference of the commission did not in any way accuse the former governor of any crime.

The judge had said: “The Judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man, but it is also the last hope of the mighty and movers and shakers of democracy.

“Those who by the benevolence of the Judiciary got to power should resist the temptation to emasculate the Judiciary

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