The Abuja division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday dismissed the suit filed by Premiere Academy, Lugbe, seeking to stop the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) from investigating the circumstances, which led to the rape and death of 14 year old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher.
Justice Evelyn Maha in her judgment, dismissed the suit for being frivolous and lacking in merit.
The judge said “having a gone through the relevant provisions of the Police Act as well as the 1999 constitution, there is nowhere the FCCPC from discharging it’s statutory functions.
Beyond that, Justice Maha added that “the court lacks powers to stop a statutory body from carrying out it’s duties as doing that will negate the doctrine of separation of powers.”
“The plaintiff (Premiere Academy) is not entitled to the reliefs sought. The defendants acted within it’s statutory powers provided by the Act establishing it.
“The first defendant, (FCCPC) acted within its rights. The plaintiff is not entitled to the reliefs sought and the case of the plaintiff is frivolous and lacking in merit and accordingly dismissed,” the judge held.
Reacting to the judgment, Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation, Lemmy Ughegbe who has been given psychosocial and technical support to Keren’s family said: “Even in death, Keren is still working to make society and humanity better. By this case, she has affirmed the right of consumer’s to complain about service failure and get redress. I agree with the court that the action brought to stop the probe was frivolous.”
Keren who was a boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe died on June 22, 2021 after she was infected by sepsis owing to a condom left inside her by a rapist, which compromised her immunity and led to her tragic end.
Following her daughter’s death, Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akpagher lodged an official complaint of service failure, leading to Keren’s rape and death against Premiere Academy, Lugbe at FCCPC.
It was at this stage that the school brought the action against the FCCPC, accused it of attempting to usurp the statutory powers of the police and asked the court to stop it.
Beyond the originating summons, the school even sought an interlocutory injunction restraining FCCPC from investigating the petition brought by Keren’s mother on the claim that the commission was seeking to usurp the function of the police.
But the request was struck out by Justice Evelyn Maha who ruled that granting the request will amount to determining the substantive suit at the interlocutory stage.
Justice Evelyn Maha held thus: “This court finds as a fact that a grant of the application would in effect touch on the issue of the legality/illegality of the actions of the 1st Defendant taken against the plaintiff, which is a major issue to be determined in the substantive suit. Consequent upon this, the application is refused and same is struck out.”
Accordingly, the Judge ordered an accelerated hearing of the substantive matter.
She equally granted a joinder application argued by Barrister Chioma Onyenucheya-Uko on behalf of the deceased mother, Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akphagher.
Justice Maha held that the applicant had placed sufficient documents before her to justify her request to be joined in the suit.
Accordingly, she ordered that the applicant – Mrs Akpagher be joined as the 3rd defendant and directed counsel to the plaintiff (Premiere Academy), Eyitato Fatogun (SAN) to effect the joinder and serve all process in the suit on her.