Civil Groups Enforce Court Order Against Police
A coalition of civil groups in Abuja yesterday enforced the judgement of a federal high court against the Nigerian Police, by unsealing the corporate head office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in compliance with the court order.
The Peace Corps house had been sealed by the police since February this year but Justice Gabriel Kolawale of the Federal High Court in a judgement of November 9 ordered police to unseal and vacate the office with immediate effect.
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The judge also imposed a fine of N12.5miilon on the police for breaching the fundamental rights of the Peace Corps National Commandant, Ambassador Dickson Akoh and 49 others with unlawful arrest and detention.
However, following the refusal of the police to obey the court order, the civil groups numbering 15 stormed the headquarters of the corps at Number 59, Iya Abubakar Crescent, Abuja, and opened the office.
Led by a legal practitioner and president of Lawyer Integrity Crusade Network, Mr. Edward Omaga, the groups armed with the court order told the police who barricaded the gate that they were there to enforce a valid court order.
Without resistance, an unmarked Honda Bullet car used by police to block the gate was driven to another location by a police man.
While the groups were in the premises of the Peace Corps house, one of the officers contacted the FCT Police Command on phone on the development, leading to deployment of about 100 fully armed police personnel to the scene.
The armed policemen led by an Assistant Police Commissioner, Danlami Yusuf Taura, on arrival summoned the leader of the civil groups for explanation on their mission and were told by Omaga that they were there to enforce a lawful court order.
To justify their action, the leader of the group presented a copy of the court order to the police boss and also drew his attention to another copy pasted on the gate of the Peace Corps house by authorities of the federal high court.
ACP Taura attempted to defend police with a claim that they had up to seven days grace to unseal the office but Omaga drew his attention to a portion of the court order that police must vacate immediately.
Another claim by the ACP that the Commissioner of Police in charge of the FCT command had not been served by the court order was also punctured by Omaga, who drew his attention to the acknowledgement of the service of the court order on the Inspector General of Police.
At the time of this report, there was no fracas between the groups and the police.
While thanking his colleagues for their courage in defending the rule of law, Omaga announced publicly that the Peace Corps house had been unsealed in compliance with the court order and that officials and the workers of the Peace Corps were expected to resume work in the office today unhindered by the police or any other security agents.
Earlier in a press statement signed by leaders of the 15 groups, they condemned the action of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, for showing disrespect to the court.
Omaga, who read the press statement, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the IGP to order so as to prevent him from instigating the masses against the federal government.
The group leader maintained that Idris’ action was a threat to the survival of democracy, adding that in a democratic setting as in the case of Nigeria, the rule of law must be allowed to reign supreme.
“IGP Idris is not above the law and Mr. President must in clear terms convey this message to our police boss in order to make him realise that the rule of law is for all of us to obey.
“Here is IGP Idris who upon mere invitation from the Senate to make clarification in respect of his office ran to the court to seek refuge and at the same time for reasons best known to him is refusing to obey the court he wants to use as shield,” he said.
The civil groups leader called on the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to always use his office as chief law officer of the federation to compel those in authority to always respect court orders in the interest of justice.
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