By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
After three years of siege on the corporate headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria, (PCN) the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami SAN has ordered Police to unseal the office with immediate effect.
The office located at the Jabi District of Abuja was ordered by Malami to be re-opened by police in compliance with subsisting two judgments of the federall high court.
A letter directing Police to obey the court verdicts and sighted at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, directed police to vacate the office in the absence of any pending appeal or stay of execution of the two judgments delivered against police.
The Headquarters of the Corps at 15, Iya Abubakar Crescent, off Alex Ekwueme street, Jabi, Abuja, was sealed off by the former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, the day it was commissioned on February 28, 2017.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole had in a landmark judgment delivered on November 9, 2017, upheld the legality of the Corps and declared the closure of the office by police as illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
Consequently, the court ordered the security agency to unseal the Headquarters and also awarded damages to the tune of N11.5m against police for infringing on the rights of the Corps members.
However for three years, the court order was not obeyed.
Also in a ruling on a motion on notice delivered on January 15, 2018 by Justice John Tsoho, now the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, the police was ordered to unseal the office but the order was not obeyed.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives had in a unanimous resolution in 2018, after summoning ex IGP Idris in an investigative hearing, ordered that the Peace Corps office be unsealed, while condemning the incessant harassments of members and officers of the Corps; but the Police did not respect the directive.
However Malami in the latest directive, asked police to forthwith obey the subsisting court orders standing against police and unseal the PCN office, “in the absence of any pending appeal or stay of execution”.
Relying on section 150(1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, a former AGF, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN had, in one of his letters to Malami on January 16, 2020, urged him to direct the police boss, who is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, “to comply with the subsisting and valid orders of courts in respect of this matter but not limited to the unsealing of his client’s offices nationwide”.
A source at the Force headquarters hinted our reporter that, IGP Muhammad Adamu would not hesitate to comply with the instruction of the AGF, saying the current police boss respects the rule of law.
The PCN has been having running battles with police and other security agencies, winning all the 15 legal actions instituted against them with over N50m standing against various agencies as cost awarded in favour of the Corps.
IGP Adamu had at the annual conference of the police lawyers held at Force Headquarters Abuja recently, lamented on the increasing judgment debts against police and directed police lawyers to ensure that court orders are at all times obeyed and enforced and that constitutional safeguards of both the suspects and citizens are protected.
Also, AGF Malami had recently passed a similar order to the Department of State Services (DSS), that Mr. Omoyele Sowore and Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd) under its incarceration be released in obedience to court orders.
The DSS complied with the AGF’s directives and the duo was released immediately.