Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Monday ordered the Inspector-General of Police to without delay unseal the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the head office of the corps located in Jabi area of the FCT was arbitrarily sealed on the order of the IGP.
Delivering judgment, Tsoho also ordered the police and other security agencies laying siege on the premises to vacate the place forthwith.
The judge held that the police must immediately hand over possession of the office to the organisation.
Tsoho made the order in a ruling on a motion on notice filed by the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Mr Dickson Akoh, and the Incorporated Trustees of the organisation.
The application, dated Oct. 6, 2017 had 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 judge had disagreed with the police that the application was an abuse of court process.
“The application filed by the defendant is proper before the court and it is not an abuse of court process.
“This is contrary to the objection raised by the police that the application of the defendant is unambiguous and misplaced.
“The motion on notice dated Oct. 6, 2017 is bound to succeed and is hereby granted as prayed’’, the judge said.
NAN reports that Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court had on Nov. 9, 2017, ordered the police to unseal the headquarters of Peace Corps.
The order was made following a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by Akoh and 49 others.
They had challenged their unlawful arrest and detention by the police at the event of the inauguration of the new headquarters of the corps on Feb. 28, 2017.
Kolawole did impose a fine of N12.5 million against the police for illegally barricading and taking over possession of the office.
Tsoho had earlier dismissed an application filed by counsel to the police, Mr James Idachaba to dispel the issues raised by the defendant applicants (Akoh and the members of trustees.)
The police had hidden under Section 330 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to ask the court to order the sealing of the PCN headquarters.
The force also depended on Section 14 of the Advanced Fee Fraud and other rates Offences Act to make its prayer.
The police had aimed at an order of court to grant temporary forfeiture of the property housing the National headquarters of Peace Corps of Nigeria.
The judge did not hesitate to describe the motion as effort in futility, adding further that the motion lacked merit.
Tsoho said that motion appeared to have been filed after thought.
“The police had claimed that it did not seal the PCN’s office but merely maintaining normal observatory and routine patrol of a scene of crime.
“ From a picture exhibit tendered by the defendant, it doesn’t seem to show a mere police on patrol,’’ he said
“The application by the police was designed to legalise an illegality already committed since Feb. 28, 2017, when the office of the defendant was sealed.
“Court cannot be used to cover acts of illegality. In view of the foregoing, this application lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed’’, the judge held. (NAN)