Court Dismisses Suspended Adamawa REC’s Bid to Evade Investigation and Prosecution

A Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hudu Yunusa-Ari, the suspended Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Adamawa State, seeking protection from arrest, detention, or prosecution by law enforcement agencies.

Justice James Omotosho ruled on Friday that the suit lacked merit, noting that despite Yunusa-Ari’s attempt to shield himself using fundamental rights claims, no legal grounds existed for granting him immunity.

The judge noted the elaborate arguments presented by Yunusa-Ari’s lawyer, Jibrin Okutepa, claiming a violation of his fundamental rights due to media reports and alleged social media attacks by the respondents. However, Justice Omotosho dismissed these claims, stating that media publications on newsworthy matters fall within the scope of press freedom and do not constitute a breach of fair hearing.

“News reported by the media is not a court of law,” the judge said. “The media, as the fourth estate of the realm, must be free to report at all times.”

Furthermore, Justice Omotosho pointed out that Yunusa-Ari had presented no evidence of being dragged before any court or tribunal, only citing media trials conducted against him.

The suit named several respondents, including the Inspector-General of Police, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Director of State Services, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Yunusa-Ari had sought various reliefs, including restraining orders against arrest, detention, and media publication related to his role in the 2023 Adamawa governorship election.

The judge countered Yunusa-Ari’s claim that his report on the elections revealed criminal activity by security agencies and INEC staff, stating that only a portion of the report was considered for the April 15 supplementary polls. He further rejected the assertion that media pronouncements constituted a violation of fair hearing, stressing that investigations and prosecutions could proceed if a prima facie case existed.

Describing the lawsuit as “highly unmeritorious,” Justice Omotosho declared, “This court will not shield any person against investigation or prosecution if a prima facie case is established against such person.”

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