Again, court orders police to unseal peace corps office
Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday ordered the Nigerian Police to immediately unseal the head office of Peace Corps of Nigeria situated within Jabi area of Abuja.
He also ordered the police and other security agencies, who have been laying siege at the premises to vacate immediately and hand over possession of the office to Peace Corps.
The order was issued during a ruling on a Motion on Notice filed by the National Commandant, Peace Corps of Nigeria, Dickson Akoh.
The application dated October 6, 2017, specifically sought the unsealing and vacation of the national headquarters of PCN by the police and other security agencies, which had laid siege and barricaded the premises even after the court had ruled otherwise.
In his his ruling, Justice Tsoho disagreed with the counsel to the police that the application was an abuse of court process.
He stated: “The application filed by the defendant is proper before the court; it is not an abuse of court process. Contrary to the complainant’s objection, the application of the defendant is unambiguous and not misplaced.
“The Motion on Notice dated October 6, 2017, was bound to succeed and is hereby granted as prayed.”
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, also of the Federal High Court had on November 9, 2017, ordered the police to unseal the headquarters of Peace Corps.
The order was in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Akoh and 49 others, challenging their unlawful arrest and detention by the police during the commissioning of the headquarters on February 28, 2017.
In the judgement, Justice Kolawole equally imposed a fine of N12.5 million against the Nigerian Police for illegally barricading and taking over possession of the office.
Before issuing the order yesterday, Justice Tsoho had dismissed an application filed by the Police through its lawyer, James Idachaba, whereby it came under Section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Section 14 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other Related Offences Act, to seek an order of court for a temporary forfeiture of the property housing the national headquarters of Peace Corps of Nigeria.
Justice Tsoho held that the application lacked merit, insisting that facts before the court glaringly showed that the Police application was filed as an after thought.
Contrary to the police claim that it did not seal the PCN’s office but merely maintaining normal observatory and routine patrol of the scene of crime, the Judge noted that from a picture exhibit tendered by the defendant, “it doesn’t seem to show mere police on patrol.
“The picture showed a policeman and a van standing firmly on ground”, the court held. Further, Justice Tsoho stated that the application filed by the Police was designed to legalise an illegality already committed since February 28, 2017, when the office of the defendant was sealed.
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