By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday ordered the Nigeria Police Force to unseal the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in Abuja.
Similarly, the trial judge, Justice John Tsoho ordered the Police and other security agencies laying siege at the premises of the Peace Corps headquarters to leave immediately as well as hand over possession of the Peace Corps office to the organisation.
The court gave the order following a ruling on an application filed by the National Commandant of the Peace Corps, Mr.Dickson Akoh, and the Incorporated Trustees of the organisation.
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.
“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 would be recalled that Justice Gabriel Kolawole 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 Mr. 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 judgement, Kolawole had equally imposed a fine of N12.5million against the police for illegally barricading and taking over possession of the office.
Earlier in Tsoho’s ruling on Monday, the court dismissed an application filed by the Police, through its lawyer, 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 police 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 afterthought.”
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.