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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal filed by a former Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, against the decision by Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State to set up a commission of inquiry to probe some transactions during his tenure as the state’s governor.
The apex court in its judgment by a five-member panel led by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, while dismissing the appeal marked: SC/911/2017, held that the assignment of the commission of inquiry was not to investigate Amaechi in person, and as such it was not about his person.
In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Emmanuel Agim, but read by Justice Adamu Jauro, the court said:,”The gist of this decision is to the effect that the commission of inquiry was to investigate some transactions, hence no one was on trial, hence the issue of denial of fair hearing therefore, does not arise.”
The judgment awarded N1million as cost against the appellant.Amaechi, while reacting to the judgment, said the pronouncement further vindicated his stance that the investigation by the commission ought not to be portrayed as personal to him because he was not on trial.
His position was contained in a statement by his Media Office.
The statement reads, “Nigeria’s apex court today ruled on the Appeal filed by Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi against the Rivers State Government on the Justice Omereji Judicial Commission of Inquiry.The Supreme Court in dismissing the appeal however pronounced that the function of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was mere investigative, that nobody, neither Amaechi nor anyone else, was on trial before the panel.
“The Supreme Court ruling clearly vindicates the former Governor of Rivers State. The apex court was categorical and clear that Amaechi was not on trial. The implication of this is that any indictment from the Commission is null and void and cannot stand.
“With this judgment, Amaechi has been vindicated and cleared him of all purported or alleged indictment by the Governor Wike’s Commission.“It has been further settled that the decisions/recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry and subsequent White Paper issued by the State Government is not a conviction or indictment and cannot stand.
“From the onset, it was obvious to any discerning mind that the Commission was set up to embarrass, denigrate and humiliate Amaechi.
“The apex court’s judgment today, further buttressed this stance. A commission purportedly set up to investigate past financial transactions was actually a commission to personally witch-hunt Amaechi.”
Wike had, shortly after assuming office in 2015 constituted the Justice George Omeregi-led judicial commission of inquiry to probe the alleged sale of state assets by the immediate past administration led by Amaechi.Amaechi challenged the decision of the governor at High Court of Rivers State in a suit marked: PHC/187/15.
Delivering a judgment on August 20, 2015, Justice Simeon Amadi held among others that that the judicial commission of inquiry was not established to investigate the personal activities of the former governor, but set up to investigate the previous actions of the government as they affect the people of Rivers State.
On appeal, the Court of Appeal also expressed similar view, which was also reflected in the judgment of the Supreme Court on Friday.
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