Adulteratiom of MFM’s anniversary Fabric: Court strikes out accused woman’s fundamental rights enforcement suit

Moves by an Abia State based businesswoman, Euphemia Okeke, to stop police from investigating her on allegations of adulterating Mountain of Fire and Miracles Church’s fabric to celebrate 30 years existence of the church, hit a brickwall, following the striking out of her suit against the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and six others, by a Lagos State High Court.

The court presided by Justice Ezekiel Oluwole Ashade, struck out Okeke’s suit, for been incompetent and lack of jurisdiction.

The businesswoman had instituted a fundamental rights enforcement suit against the IGP alongside Commissioner of Police, General Investigations, Deputy Commission of Police, Inspector Dauda Alabi, all of Force Criminal Investigation Department (ForceCID), Alagbon and M. A. Animashaun, Legal Officer, ForceCID, Alagbon, Ikoyi.

Also joined as respondents in the suit marked LD/9705MFHR/2020, were Commissioner of Police, Abia State Command and Divisional Police Officer, CSP, Police Division, Abia, Abia State.

The businesswoman, in her application filed before the court, through her counsel, Oko Prince, had asked the court for orders stopping all the respondents from from harassing, intimidating, threatening to arrest her over an allegations that centered on copyright/trademark, which she had amicably resolved with the petitioner, MFM Ministry International.

The respondents in their counter-affidavit filed and argued before the court by Barrister Morufu A. Animashaun, a Legal Officer at ForceCID, Alagbon, Ikoyi, while urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit, for been incompetent.

In asking for the dismissal of the suit, the respondents, urged the court to determine if the affidavit in support of the applicant’s motion on notice deposed to on her behalf is in compliance with the provisions of Order 2 Rule 4 of the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rule, 2009. And that in view of the facts that the applicant was never arrested nor detained despite her persistence and continue refusal to honour police invitation.

Delivering judgment on the suit, Justice Ashade, held that: “the applicant’s complaint is that she cannot be invited by the respondents to answer the petition against her, when the dispute between the applicant and petitioner is about infringement of copyright, design and trade mark. This assertion is, in my view, one of which she should be advancing before the respondents, who have responsibility of investigating the allegation but not in this court whose responsibility is to determine, upon affidavit evidence, whether indeed there is an infringement of Fundamental Rights.

“None of the paragraphs affidavit deposed to in support of the applicant’s application alleges that she was subjected to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, slavery or servitude, false or compulsory labour etc. that could be said to constitute infractions on the applicant’s right to personal dignity. Neither was there any deposition that the applicant’s right to liberty has been infringed.

“On the contrary, the facts as deposed to by the deponent on behalf of the applicant and when juxtaposed with the facts contained in the counter-affidavit of the respondents show that the applicant rushed to this Court to prevent the respondents from carrying out their statutory duty of investigating criminal allegation against her.

“In the instance case, the first to seventh
respondents only invited the applicant to answer the the allegation against her. Her apology to Mountain of Fire and Miracle cannot take away the power of police to investigate the alleged crime.

“I have no hesitation to agree with the submission of the learned counsel to the respondents that a mere invitation by the Police cannot be upgraded or elevated to amounting to an infringement of the fundamental rights of any citizen. The respondents have acted within their duties as provided in Section 4 of Police Act when they invited the applicant in the course of investigation and prosecution.

“In the circumstances based on dispassionate appraisal of the facts of this case as presented by the applicant and the respondents, this Court cannot restrain the respondents from carrying out their legitimate duties of investigating of alleged adulteration and dealing with adulterated products.

“In final analysis, having found that this court lacs jurisdiction to entertain this case, I hereby strike out this case. This is the judgment of the court”.

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