By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
In a move that appears to throw spanners into the works of the various panels of inquiry constituted at the behest of the Federal Government to probe widespread allegations police brutality and other forms of human rights violations against Nigerians, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has approached the Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the investigative panels from sitting.
In a suit marked: FHC/ ABJ/CS/1492/2020 and filed by O.M Atoyebi, NPF’s lawyer, the police are seeking an order of court to stop the judicial panels of inquiry set up by state governors to probe allegations of human rights abuses by operatives of the force.
The police argued that the establishment of panels of inquiry by the state governors to investigate the activities of the force is in sharp contravention of “section 241(1)(2)(a) and item 45, part 1, first schedule to the constitution and section 21 of the tribunals of inquiry act.”
It would be recalled that in the wake of the #EndSARS protests, state governors were directed by the National Economic Council (NEC) to establish judicial panels across the country in a move to deliver justice to all victims of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police units.
The plaintiff (the police) named the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the Attorneys General of the states, and chairmen of the panels set up by the states as defendants.
The force said the action of the governors “is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever,” urging the court to restrain the defendants from conducting any investigation or setting up panels to probe the affairs of the security agency.
The suit is billed to come up on December 18 for hearing.
The police is seeking the following reliefs among others: “A declaration that having regard to the provisions of Section a14 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the Federal Government of Nigeria has the exclusive power to organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force,” the suit read in part.
“A declaration that the establishment of panel of inquiries by the Governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria, to inquire into the activities of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the discharge of her statutory duties is a gross violation of the provisions of Section 241 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 21 of the tribunals of inquiry Act, Cap.T21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.”