Justify Clampdown on Peace Corps, Court Tells Police, DSS, NSA

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has asked the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser, and the Director General of Department of State Security Services, a 12-day ultimatum within which to explain reason for the clampdown on the Peace Corps of Nigeria.
The police in a combined operation with the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army on February 28, raided the headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in Abuja.
During the operation, they arrested the National Commandant, Dickson Akor and 48 other members of the corps.
A statement issued by the Police Spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, said intelligence reports showed that the Peace Corps and other similar groups were acquiring weapons and conducting covert trainings in different locations across the country.
In the statement, Moshood said such action violated a 2013 gazette of the Federal Government that banned such groups.
However, Thursday, the court asked the police, DSS and Army to defend the arrest and detention of Amb.it (Dr) Akoh and 48 other members of the corps.
Delivering ruling in an ex parte motion filed by the Incorporated Trustees of PCN, Justice Gabriel Kolawole said the respondents must appear in court on March 28, 2017 with affidavit evidence on why an order of interim injunction restraining them from further arresting members of the Corps should not be granted against them.
More so, the court asked them to show in the affidavit evidence to be filed in court before March 28, why the court should not order them to unseal or vacate the headquarters of the PCN.
In the ruling that followed submissions of the former Attorney General of the Federation, Kanu Agabi for the applicant, Justice Kolawole, said that the NSA, Police and DSS must also justify in their affidavit evidence why previous judgments of the court in favour of PCN were not complied with in spite of directive to that effect in writing by the AGF.
Justice Kolawole said he was tempted to grant the prayers of the applicant in the ex parte motion and in view of previous judgments delivered by the court.
However, the court gave the defendants until March 28, 2017 to enable them respond in affidavit evidence to the alleged breach of fundamental rights of the applicants.
He said when he perused several judgments of the court which had affirmed Peace Corps as a registered body by the Federal Government, and which had earlier restrained the defendants from molesting, intimidating and harassing the applicants, he was at a loss as to why the defendants chose to ignore the judgments in spite of letters from the AGF for compliance.
The court further frowned at the used ‘intelligence report’ to cause infraction to the fundamental rights of Nigerian citizens as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution.
In view of this, Justice Kolawole vowed that the court shall not surrender it’s constitutional role of protecting the citizen.
“I should state that, judicially speaking, there is nothing magical about intelligence/security reports that a court of law should upon its being mentioned, turns it’s tail and shirk from its constitutional duty to uphold the constitution and protect the rights of citizens because by the provisions of Section 36, there is no legal impediment that can prevent a court of law before whom a so called intelligence/security report is being brandished by agents of the state to justify an infraction of any of the rights guaranteed by the constitution.
“To allow this phenomenon to take a firm root in our legal system by law enforcement agents, is to aid the gradual erosion of the foundation and efficacy of the constitution, and where that is allowed, we can as well bid a farewell to the concept of constitutional democracy, which in all civilized system, is firmly rooted in the principle of rule of law, which makes government accountable to the people,” he said. .

Author: News Editor

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