The Police have initiated a move to stop various panels probing allegations of rights abuses and other acts of impunity against police officials, particularly operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
State governments have raised the panels to investigate alleged infractions by SARS operatives, following nationwide #EndSARS protests by youths.
The panels have since been sitting in almost all the states.
But, the Police have approached a Federal High Court in Abuja, seeking among others, an order restraining the Attorneys-General of the 36 states and the panels of inquiry they constituted, from proceedings with their investigation of the activities of the police and their officials.
The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, filed for the NPF by its lawyer, O. M. Atoyebi (SAN) has 104 defendants.
The defendants include 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.
It is the plaintiff’s main contention that the decision by governors to set up panels of inquiry to investigate activities of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and their officials in the conduct of their statutory duties violate Section 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act.
The NPF is of the view that by the provisions of 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution the Federal Government of Nigeria has exclusive power to “organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.”
The plaintiff raised three questions for the court’s determination. It is also seeking four main reliefs.
One of the prayers is 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.
Other reliefs being sought by the plaintiff are:
- 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.
- A declaration that having regard to the circumstances of this case, the attitude of the governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria, in this case, is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void, and of no effect whatsoever.
- An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd to 38th defendants (the attorneys-general of the 36 states) from making or conducting any investigations, sittings and inquiries and/or from making or conducting any further investigations, sittings and inquiries in respect of matters affecting the Nigeria Police Force, and or further setting up any panel of inquiry in any state whatsoever in the country.
The case listed on the cause list for Wednesday, could not be heard because the court did not sit. It was rescheduled for December 18.
Source: The Nation