Peace Corps: Ex-Justice Minister, Agabi Petitions AGF Over Police Disobedience To Court Orders
Former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), has petitioned the current AGF and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) over the continued disobedience to lawful court orders by the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force.
Agabi in the 7-page petition already served on Malami expressed disgust on police attitude to court judgments and asked the AGF Malami to compel the Nigeria Police Force to obey court orders.
The petition came on the heels of fresh clampdown on members of the Peace Corps of Nigeria PCN and the blunt refusal of police to unseal the Corporate Headquarters of the Corps in Abuja inspite of court orders against the police action.
Agabi notified Malami that the Peace Corps is duly registered in Nigeria with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and accorded recognition by the Nigerian government and international bodies.
The ex-AGF lamented that police had unjustly and unlawfully been having running battles with the Corps over the years leading to 15 litigations and all won by the youth based organization with over N50m damages awarded by courts against police..
Despite subsisting judgments and orders of courts, Agabi informed Malami that the Nigeria Police, through the Ondo state Commissioner, CP Undie Adie, on the 13th January, 2020, arrested the Ondo state Commandant of the Corps, Alawoki Lukeman Oluwatobi, while at the CP’s office on a scheduled courtesy visit alongside other affiliate bodies of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), the apex youth body in the country.
The ex-AGF in his petition dated 16th January, 2020, disclosed to AGF Malami that the essence of visiting the Ondo Commissioner of Police was to exploit ways of how the youth leaders could compliment the effort of the Police in curtaining crime situations in the state
He said, “immediately the NYCN leader introduced our client’s Commandant in Ondo state, Patriot Alawoki Lukeman Oluwatobi as a member of the delegation, the Commissioner of Police instantly reacted by declaring that his organization is illegal and that there is an existing circular to that effect from his Force Headquarters.
“He subsequently ordered immediate detention of the Commandant”.
Agabi also revealed that men of the Police also invaded the PCN office located at No 68, General Bajowa street, along Royal Bird Hotel, Leonard junction, Alagbaka, Akure, with heavy arms, “and in the process brutalized, molested and arrested some members” of the Corps.
“They carted away valued items, including the PCN’s flag and sealed off the office, while some policemen have c been keeping vigils at the premises till date.
“We are aware that, at the point of search of our client’s premises at Ondo state, the police had no search warrant or warrant of arrest neither was our client informed of any offence that has been committed.
“Unfortunately, this unprovoked and unwarranted act happened few days after the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed A. Adamu NPM, MNI at the annual conference of the Police lawyers held at Force Headquarters Abuja had warned of the increasing judgment debts against the Police.
“The fresh clampdown came when IGP asked the Police lawyers to ensure at all times that court orders are obeyed and enforced and that constitutional safe guards of both the suspect and citizen are protected”, Agabi added.
He averred that by sealing off the PCN’s office in Ondo, the Police have violated the right of the organisation, which enjoys consultative status with the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU) to acquire and own immovable property and disrupted its lawful activities.
The former AGF also reminded Malami of the police siege on the national secretariat of PCN, Abuja since February 28, 2017, despite two court orders and the resolution of the House of Representatives in 2018 that Police should vacate the premises.
It will be recalled that Malami, as the Chief Law Officer of the federation, had in March 2018, written to the former IGP Ibrahim Idris, asking him to unseal the PCN office in Abuja, “in absence of any pending appeal or proof of stay of execution”; but the Police refused to honour the AGF.
Agabi’s 7-page petition, which was annexed with various court judgments in favour of PCN and other documents to proof that the Corps is a legal entity; was also copied to the Force Headquarters, the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Public Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice.
The ex-Justice Minister relied on section 150(1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria to ask the AGF Malami to direct the Inspector General of Police as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, “to comply with the subsisting valid orders of various courts attached to the petition but not limited to the unsealing of our client’s offices nationwide”.