Court stops trial of Peace Corps boss over police disobedience to orders
The Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday stopped the trial of National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Amb. Dickson Akoh.Justice John Tsoho stopped the trial, following police refusal to open the corporate head office of the organisation, as ordered by the court.
The ruling was delivered in the motion on notice brought by Akoh against the police.Justice Tsoho ordered the police to vacate the premises because their presence was against the law.He held that the police, as an institution established by law, must not be seen to be breaking the rule, and disregarding court orders and judgments with impunity.
Tsoho agreed with counsel to the defendant, John Ochogwu, that Akoh, as a defendant in the 13-count alleged criminal charges, had been disadvantaged in preparing for his defence as required by law.He added that the police breached section 36 of the 1999 Constitution by refusing to give him adequate time and opportunity to prove his innocence.
The judge further held that the police, who relied heavily on speedy trial of the defendant, did not adhere strictly to the rule of law and natural justice.“It has often been said that justice is not for one part, but for all, including the state.
“In the instant case, the police cannot be said to be fair and just to the defendant by sealing the office were the defence materials could be obtained,” he said.He maintained that it was wrong for the police to have disobeyed two decisions of the court, which directed them to unseal the office in the last one year.He said: “There is a democratic norm that no person or institution is above the law. If the police truly deserve adherence to, or compliance with the law, it should first show good example by respecting the law.
“It cannot be reasonably encouraged to promote the hierocracy of requiring others to be subject to the law, while they wear the toga of an outlaw with impunity.Justice Gabriel Kolawole in an earlier judgment on Akoh’s enforcement of fundamental human rights had ordered the police to unseal the head office.He said the closure was unlawful, illegal and a breach of the fundamental right of Peace Corps’ members to own property and awarded N12.5million compensation against the police over their unlawful arrest and detention.
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