Police vs Peace Corps: Police Hands Not Clean, Says Court; Adjourns Indefinitely

A Federal High Court in Abuja, Tuesday, adjourned indefinitely the trial of the National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Ambassador Dickson Akoh , in the 13 count alleged criminal charges brought against them by the Nigerian police, adding that police hands were not clean in the matter.
In a ruling, Justice John Tsoho, said the continuous refusal of police to obey several court pronouncements concerning the Peace Corps of Nigeria, it has no moral right to stand before the same court to seek justice.
Reviewing the case, the Judge said the basis of the application for indefinite suspension is compelling the respondent to obey orders of the court.
In agreeing with the defendant, Justice Tsoho said it was imperative for the police to obey court orders before coming to seek justice in the same court, adding that police as an establishment of the law must obey the same law least the country disintegrates into anarchy.
Thee court said that it was wrong of police to have chosen to disobey two judgments of the court which directed it to unseal the office in the past one year.
Justice Tsoho agreed with counsel to the Peace Corp boss, that Akoh as a defendant in the 13-count alleged criminal charges had been disadvantaged in preparing for his defence in the charges against him as required by law.
The court held that the police have breached section 36 of the 1999 constituition as amended by refusing to give the defendant adequate time and opportunity to prove his innocence in the charges against him by sealing up the office where the material for defence were said to have been kept.
The Judge said that the police which relied heavily on speedy trial of the defendant must be seen adhering strictly to the rule of law and natural justice by ensuring that the defendant was not disadvanatgely placed.
“It has often been said that justice is not for one party but for all including the state. In the instant case police cannot be said to be fair and just to the defendant by sealing up the office where the defence materials could be obtained and at the same time demanding for speedy trial at the court.
“Let the point be made that the hands of the police are not clean by refusing to obey court judgments and at the same time come to court to seek justice.
“This court is swayed by the argument of counsel to the applicant defendant in his reply on point of law that the police had flouted a valid order made by the court.
“If the police truly deserves adherenace to or compliance with the law, it should first show good example by respecting the law,
“It cannot be reasonably encouraged to promote the hyprocracy of requiring others to be subject of the law while the polie wear the torga of an outlaw of impunity.
“There is a democratic norm that no person or institution is above the law, consequently the judge stopped the trial until when there is evidence that police has complied with the order of the court,” the Judge held.
The police had last year slammed a 90 ount charge against the peace corps boss but the charges were later reduced to 13 by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole had in a judgment on the enforcement of fundamental human rights ordered police to unseal the corporate head office of the corps on the grounds that the action was unlawfull, illegal and breach of the fundamental right of Peace Corps members to own property.
The Judge awarded N12.5m against police and in favour of Akoh and 49 others over their unlawful arrest and detention by police.
Justice Tsoho in another judgment had ordered police to vacate the offce of the organisation on the grounds that the presence of police in the office was against the law.

Author: News Editor

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