By Yemi Itodo
The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Justice and Equity (Coalition-JE), an umbrella body of different indigenous Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the country, has petitioned the Nigerian House of Representatives, over what it described as “total disregard of court judgements” by the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris.
Hon. Rita Orji, member representing Ajeromi/Ifelodun federal constituency of Lagos State, at the commencement of Wednesday’s plenary, submitted a 4-page strong worded petition on behalf of the group to the green chamber.
The petition, which also annexed chronicles of various court judgements standing against the Nigerian Police and the IGP in favour of the Trustees of Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN) and its National Commandant, Amb (Dr.) Dickson Akoh, was signed by one Comrade Olayemi Success, on behalf of the coalition.
The petitioners want the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, Idris and the Chief Law Officer and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) summoned by the Reps, to explain why subsisting court orders were flagrantly disobeyed by them.
“We urge Mr. Chairman to call the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the leadership of Peace Corps of Nigeria and Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development, to know what the problem is.
“It is a strange act that smacks of mischief for the Attorney-General of the Federation who is the Chief Law Officer of Nigeria to advise the Inspector-General of Police to comply with judgements of court and he shows recalcitrance or reluctance to obey.
“Recall that during public hearing on the Nigerian Peace Corps Bill, the Police strongly opposed to its passage. On the day the Corps commissioned its new corporate headquarters after the passage of the Bill by both chambers of the National Assembly, an event that was well attended by several legislators, the Police swooped on the office and sealed it up. This is an affront on the integrity and sanctity of the nation’s parliament, which cannot happen in any civilised part of the world”, the petition reads in part.
The group also tendered evidence of letters written by past Attorneys-General of the Federation on the 11th March 2010, 19th November 2010 and 30th January 2012, advising the Inspector-General of Police to obey court orders over the harassment and sealing of Peace Corps office.
“We also have it on authority that the incumbent Attorney-General of the Federation also wrote to the IGP recently to obey the court judgements in favour of Peace Corps of Nigeria, but the IGP has refused to unseal the office”, the group added.
The petitioners also said the press release of the Nigeria Police as published in page 31 of the Nigerian Tribune of 17th January, 2018 and page 40 of the Blueprint of 17th January, 2018, describing the PCN as “proscribed organisation” was misleading, as two seperate court judgements by Justice Auta J and Justice Chukwu J in 2011 and 2013 respectively, already declared such action illegal and affirmed PCN lawful organisation.
They prayed the House of Representatives to intervene in the matter and make the IGP to obey all standing judgements against the Force.
The petition was referred to the House Committee on Public Petitions.
Recall that Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, on 9th November 2017, awarded a cost of N12.5m damage against the Nigeria Police, while ordering them to unsealthe corporate headquarters of PCN “forthwith”.
Also, Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court on 15th January 2018, declared as “illegal”, the continous sealing of the PCN office, thereby calling on the Police to immediately unseal the property.