Prominent lawyers have sang discordant tunes over the legality of the police invitation to Senator Iyiola Omisore over the alleged assault on late Isiaka Adeleke in 2014.
The late Adeleke had reported that Senator Omisore assaulted him at Ideal Nest Hotel, Osogbo, during a PDP stakeholder meeting in preparation for primary election of the party to the August governorship election in the state.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP state CIID, Umege Uzochukwu, had recently invited Senator Omisore in connection with a case of assault reported by the late Adeleke.
Reacting to the police invitation, A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Nathaniel Oke, described the action of the police as “political harassment.”
He wondered why the police have not prosecuted the case since 2014 that was reported to them.
But the former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Mr. Wale Afolabi, maintained that criminal case can be prosecuted any time, even after the death of the complainant.
According to Oke (SAN), “Police have the statutory power to invite any individual who is suspected to have committed any offence for the purpose of carrying out their investigation to determine wether criminal offence has actually been committed or not.
“The only area that is actually worrying me is that, when Senator Isiaka Adeleke himself was alive, what step did the police actually taken to unravel and probably prosecute Senator Iyiola Omisore? Therefore, to me, it is a political harassment. It is a political intimidation.
“The question is this, Senator Adeleke was alive since 2014 before he died in 2017. Now, where is the complainant as far as that criminal allegation is concerned? Will evidence now be given on behalf of the deceased? I don’t think it is proper. They have the right to invite him for the purpose of interrogation, but the fact is that, this is political harassment.
“The point I am making is that, what were the police doing as at the time the person who was purportedly assaulted was alive. Why after the demise of Senator Adeleke?
“It is a matter of evidence. I think the worst that could happen, I’m considering the worst scenario is possibly to have him arraigned, if they arraign him, won’t you be able to conclusively draw an inference to the fact that this is political harassment, especially at this time that 2018 governorship election in the state is around.
“Though, the truth is that we are still speculating on what ground he is being invited. I think we don’t need to preempt the police,” he submitted.
But, to Afolabi, the matter is a criminal one, thus it is the state that handles criminal matters.
“Police has the right to invite anybody for questioning once there is a report of alleged crime. Don’t forget that the law is no respecter of anybody. No matter highly placed, the police has the right to invite such person for interrogation.
“If you look at the fact of that case very well, Senator Adeleke was not the only one assaulted on that day, they were about two or three that were assaulted and they have the right to report to the police. Those involved can give evidence if there is need to give evidence in court.
“Don’t forget the fact that criminal cases are offense against the state. Criminal cases are offenses created by the law of the state and therefore it is a case against the state. You can only call the complainant to come and give evidence, buy it is not his case.
“Adeleke was not the only complainant in the case. Secondly, criminal cases is an offense against the state. If Adeleke is dead, there are others that were there on that day that can give evidence.
On why the case was delayed for about three years, Afolabi said the question that is important is wether a crime has been committed.
“If it is ten or fifty years, it is only in Nigeria they are complaining about the year, in the advanced country like US, if they get the fact of a matter in thirty years, they will prosecute it. Criminal matter don’t have a limit of years,you can prosecute it anytime you have evidence to prosecute it,” Afolabi submitted.
In his own argument, a lecturer in the faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University, OAU Ile-Ife, Mr. Musibau Lateef, described the police action as “absurdity and ridiculous.
“It is height of absurdity. Assault that happened in 2014, as a matter of law, you can not maintain a crime of assault which is a personally injury on behalf of a dead person. For the sake of God, Senator Adeleke is late, can anybody legally speaking, bring an action of assault on his behalf? The answer is no, legally speaking, and that is why I said, for me, it is a sign of ignorance and quite ridiculous.
“The police have the right under section 2(11) of the Constitution and police Act, to invite any body, but in this context, it is height of ignorance. I’m speaking as a matter of law, it is not possible to sustain a matter of assault on behalf of the dead person. It is a personally injury crime that only the person who suffered the injury must testify.
Reacting to wether the evidence of the late Adeleke before the commission of enquiry can be admitted on oath, the lecturer said, “we are talking about crime here. No commission of enquiry, I repeat, no commission has the right to indict anyone on criminal offense.
“So, whatever the findings of the commission in this respect goes to nothing. Who will come to court to tender the statement? This is not a matter of controversy and that is why I used ignorance deliberately, it is height of ignorance.
“We are not talking of murder here because murder would have been different, but he slapped me, he kicked me, how do you prove that? It is ridiculous and height of ignorance. Going by the content of the letter that he was invited in connection with the 2014 issue, it is ignorance on the part of the police. The content of the letter has rubbished whatever may be the reason for the invitation.
“Senator Omisore may refuse to go. He can simply tell his lawyer to go and explain to them. You have the right not to subject yourself to such ridiculous invitation.
Anoyhrr lawyer, Mr. Oluwaseun Ijoba, said, “the police have not been responsible in handling this issue.
If the letter did not stated particularly the reason they invited him, it would have been something else. Now, I begin to wonder, what intelligence, what new fact would emerge after the death of this man about seven months ago that did not emerge in three years after the alleged act. I couldn’t see any reason for this invitation rather than political harassment.
“It is mere allegation against Senator Omisore. It has not been proved. There’s no way the police would justify their position presently after three years. If there is no opportunity to cross examine a witness, to test the veracity of the statement made by the witness, the statement amount to nothing.
A human right lawyer, Mr. Kanmi Ajibola, said “the invitation by the police to Otunba Iyiola Omisore is very wrongful and offensive. The cause of complaints given to the police by the late Senator Adeleke had passed off with his death. The police should be very careful on careless and unproductive invitation like this.