THE Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, on Thursday, dismissed the suit filed by a former governor of the state, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, challenging the setting up of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry to probe his administration.
The State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had constituted the Justice George Omereji-led judicial commission of inquiry to probe the sale of assets belonging to the state by the Amaechi administration.
But Amaechi had gone to court to challenge the setting up of the commission of inquiry to probe the immediate past government.
However, Justice Simeon Amadi, who delivered judgment in the suit, affirmed that the judicial commission of inquiry was not established to investigate the personal activities of the former governor.
Justice Amadi added that the commission was established to investigate the previous actions of government as they affected the people of the state.
According to him, Wike, by the provisions of the law, is empowered to establish the judicial commission of inquiry to investigate previous actions of government.
Justice Amadi specifically said that there was no law preventing a state government from finding out how the state’s resources were spent.
On the assertion by Amaechi that the 30 days set aside for the sitting of the judicial commission of inquiry will deny him fair hearing, Justice Amadi maintained that the number of days set aside for the commission did not breach his (Amaechi) right to fair hearing.
According to him, since Amaechi has yet to file a memorandum before the commission and has not appeared before it, the former governor cannot complain of not being given a fair hearing.
The court stated that the 30 days set aside for the commission of inquiry were not sacrosanct and could be extended.
The court described Amaechi’s suit as being speculative because the former governor failed to prove the injuries he had suffered as a result of the establishment of the commission of inquiry.
Amadi added that the terms of reference of the commission did not accuse the former governor of crime – contrary to the former governor’s claim.
He pointed out that the former governor was not on trial, saying, “The judiciary is not only the last hope of the common man, but it is also the last hope of the mighty and the movers and shakers of democracy. Those who by the benevolence of the judiciary got to power should resist the temptation to emasculate the judiciary.”
However, the Rivers State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Emmanuel Aguma, explained that with the court ruling, the commission of inquiry could begin its sitting and promised that it would be fair to all parties.
Aguma pointed out that the court decision on the matter had shown that no claimant could run to a court to stop the “legitimate business” of a judicial commission of inquiry.
But Amaechi’s counsel, Mrs. Winifred Enyinnaya, said the former governor would appeal against the judgment.