Court Condemns Arrest Of Peace Corps Boss, Others, Gives Police, DSS 12 days Ultimatum
By Yemi Itodo
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has given the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser, and the Director General of Department of State Security Services, a 12-day ultimatum within which to justify the clampdown on the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
They were also ordered by the court to defend the arrest and detention of the National Commandant of Peace Corps, Amb (Dr) Dickson Akoh and 49 other members of the corps.
Delivering ruling in an ex parte motion filed by the Incorporated Trustees of PCN, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said the respondents must appear in court on March 28, 2017 with affidavit evidence on why an order of interim injunction restraining them from further arresting members of the Corps should not be granted against them.
More so, the court asked them to show in the affidavit evidence to be filed in court before March 28, why the court should not order them to unseal or vacate the headquarters of the PCN.
In the ruling that followed submissions of the former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi for the applicant, Justice Kolawole said, the NSA, Police and DSS must also justify in their affidavit evidence, why previous judgments of the court in favour of PCN were not complied with, in spite of directive to that effect in writing by the AGF.
Justice Kolawole said he was tempted to grant the prayers of the applicant in the ex parte motion and in view of previous judgments delivered by the court, but decided to give the defendants until March 28, 2017, to enable them respond in affidavit evidence to the brazen breach of fundamental rights of the applicants.
He said, when he perused through several judgments of the court which had affirmed Peace Corps as a registered body by the Federal Government, and which had earlier restrained the defendants from molesting, intimidating and harassing the applicants, he was at a loss as to why the defendants chose to ignore the judgments in spite of letters from the AGF for compliance.
The court further frowned at the use of so called ‘intelligence report’ to cause infraction to the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens, as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution.
In view of this, Justice Kolawole vowed that the court shall not surrender it’s constitutional role of protecting the citizen.
“I should state that, judicially speaking, there is nothing magical about intelligence/security reports that a court of law should upon its being mentioned, turn its tail and shirk from its constitutional duty to uphold the constitution and protect the rights of citizens, because, by the provisions of Section 36, there is no legal impediment that can prevent a court of law before whom a so called intelligence/security report is being brandished by agents of the state to justify an infraction of any of the rights guaranteed by the constitution.
“To allow this phenoma to take a firm root in our legal system by law enforcement agents, is to aid the gradual erosion of the foundation and efficacy of the constitution, and where that is allowed, we can as well bid a farewell to the concept of constitutional democracy, which in all civilized system, is firmly rooted in the principle of rule of law, which make government accountable to the people.