Posted by Isuma Mark | 30 November 2017 | 3,231 times
The Nigeria police have refused to vacate the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) national headquarters in Abuja 20 days after a court ruled against their occupation of the office.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had ordered the police to unseal the office.
He also ordered the police to pay N12.5 million to the organisation as compensation for the unlawful arrest and detention of its officials.
The police and other security agencies had brutalised and arrested officers and men of the organisation despite repeated court cases which the PCN won.
INDEPENDENT found that despite the court judgment and further injunction pasted on the gate of the office by the court heavily armed policemen were guarding the premises while it remained sealed.
The policemen told INDEPENDENT that they were only obeying “order from above” when asked if they were not aware of the court judgment pasted on the gate.
One of the officers explained that “in the police, you obey what your superior orders you, you don’t disobey.”
Attempts to speak with Moshood Jimoh, Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), failed since he did not pick calls to his telephone.
The police and sister security agencies had sealed PCN’s office on February 28 when they invaded the premises during the official inauguration of the building.
They arrested everyone on sight, carted away personal and official belongings, brutalised staff, destroyed furniture and other property running into millions of naira.
The development prompted PCN, in March, to institute the suit against the police, the Inspector-General of Police, and the National Security Adviser.
Other respondents in the suit were the Department of State Services and its Director-General as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation.
The corps asked the court for an order directing the respondents to pay N2 billion as compensation for its officials who were injured and other damages suffered during the invasion of its premises.
The court accused the police of “naked force, brutality, and arbitrariness in carrying out a Gestapo-like operation, where it constituted itself into law and disregarded all extant laws in the country.”
The development has stirred up anxiety concerning government’s disobedience to court orders despite the present administration’s promise to institute the rule of law.
The government has roundly been accused of disobeying court orders.
Several court cases which have been entered against institutions of government have been flouted and ignored, a development which a human rights lawyer, Tunde Aketunde, called a “systematic return to dark ages.”
Aketunde said: “It’s bad for the image of the country and very sad for citizens to obtain lawful court decisions and for any institution of government to flout it.
“It’s a desecration of the constitution, an abuse of all legal norms and a growing trend of tyranny in the highest order.
“I call on the PCN to approach the court again to institute a fresh case for contempt of court and garnishment.
“Even if the police would not obey it, but let it be entered into for the whole world to see that the police and much other government’s agencies are eroding their credibility.”
According to him, “No country prospers and functions when institutions being managed with taxpayers’ money continue to disobey court orders, flout the rule and decide when to enforce court decisions and when not to.
“It has never happened in the history of this country, not even under the late Sanni Abacha.
“The administration that came close to this act of arbitrariness was Muhammadu Buhari’s in 1984 when he was the head of state.
“Is history repeating itself? Does history repeat itself or people don’t change and act in a similar way? Ask the president, your guess is as good as mine.
“But what I am saying is that it is a sad period for this country because the police are supposed to be the guardian of the constitution but it has most often than not flouted legal pronouncements and caused confusion in the country.”
A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) has waded into the matter by ordering the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to order his men out of the PCN premises.
The coalition warned that if its demand was not met, they would mobilise “all civil society organisations, students, youths and concerned Nigerians” to occupy Force Headquarters, demanding the resignation of the IGP.” (INDEPENDENT)
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