The Supreme Court has affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal that the Rivers state government cannot designate its panel as a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or 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 was on trial before the panel and therefore the issue of a fair hearing did not arise.
The apex court stated that the commission is a mere investigative body and cannot convict or indict.
Governor Nyesom Wike had set up a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in 2015 to investigate some transactions of the Rivers State Government under the administration of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
Amaechi challenged the designation of the Panel as Judicial Commission of Inquiry instead of Commission of Inquiry as prescribed by the Commission of Inquiry Law of Rivers State. And also challenged the issue of denial of his right of fair hearing.
The two courts held that the Governor was empowered by law to set up a panel of inquiry, and with the name Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
However, they held that decision of the panel of inquiry did not amount to conviction or indictment to warrant any adverse effect on Rotimi Amaechi on anyone else for that matter.
Amaechi, not satisfied with the decision that a Governor could name the panel any other name other than prescribed by the Commission of Inquiry Law of Rivers State, filed an appeal to the Supreme Court.
With the Judge delivered today, it is now clear that a Governor can designate a panel of inquiry either as a Judicial Commission of Inquiry or Commission of Inquiry (simpliciter).
It has been further settled that the decisions/recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry and subsequent White Paper issued by a Government is not a conviction or indictment as to adversely affect a person seeking elective office.