A Federal High Court Abuja, has ordered the Nigerian Police to immediately unseal the office of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, situate at Jabi Abuja and sealed since February 28, 2017 during the official commissioning of the edifice.
Justice John Tsoho who issued the order also directed the Police and other security agencies laying siege on the premises of the Peace Corps headquarters to vacate immediately as well as hand over possession of the office to the authorities of the organization.
The court gave the order following a ruling on a motion on notice filed by Dr. Dickson Akoh, National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria and the Incorporated Trustees of the organization.
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.
Delivering ruling, the court disagreed with the police lawyer that the application was an abuse of court process.
“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” Justice Tsoho held.
“The motion on notice dated October 6, 2017 is bound to succeed and is hereby granted as prayed” the court ordered.
It will be recalled that 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 Dr. 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 judgment, Kolawole equally imposed a fine of N12.5m against the police for illegally barricading and taking over possession of the office.
Earlier in Tsoho’s latest ruling, the court dismissed an application filed by the Police, through its lawyer, Mr. James Idachaba.
In the failed application, the police had hidden under Section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Section 14 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other rates Offences Act to ask court to order the sealing of the PCN headquarters.
The application basically sought an order of court to grant temporary forfeiture of the property housing the National headquarters of Peace Corps of Nigeria.
Justice Tsoho said the application lacked merit, insisting that on the merit of the complainant’s application, “facts before the court glaringly showed that the police application was filed as an after-thought”.
Contrary to police claim that it did not seal the PCN’s office but merely maintaining normal observatory and routine patrol of a scene of crime, the judge noted that from a picture exhibit tendered by the defendant, “it doesn’t seem to show a mere police on patrol.
“The picture showed a policeman and a van standing firmly on ground, the court held.
Furthermore, Justice Tsoho was of the view that the application by the police was designed to legalize the illegality already committed since February 28, 2017, when the office of the defendant was sealed.
“Court cannot be used to cover acts of illegality. In view of the foregoing, this application lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed” Justice Tsoho stated.