Police Brutality: Ex gov. Obi urges panel to dismiss Mokwe’s petition

The incumbent governor-elect of Anambra State Peter Obi speaks on the result of gobernatorial election held in the state yesterday, on February 7, 2010. The Anambra State gubernatorial election which is a prelude to next year's general elections was marred by irregularities in voter's register and low turn out of voters. Obi overwhelmingly won the vote with 97,843 votes, ahead of closest rival Chris Ngige, from the Action Congress opposition party, who took 60,240. AFP PHOTO PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra on Thursday urged the Judicial Panel of Inquiry on Police Brutality sitting in Awka to discountenance the petition of Mr Bonaventure Mokwe.

Obi made the prayer through his lawyer, Alex Ejesieme (SAN) at the resumed hearing of Mokwe’s petition against his illegal arrest, torture, detention and demolition of his hotel, Upper Class Hotel Onitsha.

Obi told the Inquiry that the petition was an abuse of court process as two litigation’s relating to the same issue are already at the Court of Appeal.

According to him, the matters are in suit numbers 0/249/2014 and 0/200/2014 represented by Exhibit B2 and B1 respectively at the Court of Appeal where he was claiming damages amounting to about N5 billion.

He said that a repetition of the claims in another court where a petitioner was asking for another N120 million was an abuse of court process.

He argued that it was wrong for somebody to be claiming three damages on one matter.

“Mr Peter Obi and Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) James Nwafor, the SARS Commander at Awkuzu are defendants in B2, Anambra Government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice are defendants in B1 both of which Mokwe is the claimant,” he said.

Obi, through his counsel, prayed the panel to dismiss the complaints on four grounds, viz subjudice, panel’s lack of jurisdiction to entertain the matter and being outside the terms of reference of the panel.

The counsel noted that the panel was set up to investigate Police brutality and recommend compensation.

According to him, his client did not fall into that category considering the allegations against him as a private citizen already in court with the petitioner.

“As a matter of fact, only victims of Police brutality who have not pressed for damages in any court should come to the panel.

He said other persons might have had their cases determined or pending in competent court of jurisdictions.

SP Innocent Obi, legal representative of Police aligned himself with the position of Obi’s counsel.

On his part, Prof. Meshach Umenweke, counsel to Mokwe said that Obi’s application at the Inquiry was misplaced and should not be granted.

He noted that neither the applicant or Nwafor were parties in the petition.

Umenweke said the petitioner was asking for compensation from Police and not ‘damages’ arguing that that the panel should entertain it.

He said the outcome would not have effect on Obi arguing that the panel had powers to hear the petition.

The counsel also filed an addendum which was admitted by the panel.

Justice Veronica Umeh, Chairman of the panel adjourned to Dec. 10 for ruling on Obi’s application.(NAN)