By Christiana Ekpa and Umar Muhammad Puma
The House of Representatives yesterday gave the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Idris Ibrahim, 21 days ultimatum to unseal the National Headquarters Peace Corps of Nigerian.
The Peace Corps facilities located at number 57, Iya Abubakar Crescent, off Alex Ekwueme street, opposite Jabi lake, Abuja, had been under lock and keys by the Police since February 28th, 2017, the day the property was commissioned.
The position of the House followed the recommendation of its Committee on Public Petitions, which conducted investigative hearing into the “illegal” closure of Peace Corps facilities and the “flagrant” disobedience to subsisting court orders to unseal the premises.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Federal High Court, Abuja, had on the 9th November 2017, ordered that the office be unsealed, while awarding N12.5m damages against the Police.
In a similar development, Justice John Tsoho of another division of Federal High Court Abuja, had also, on the 15th January, 2018, given judgement that Police should vacate the Peace Corps office.
But the judgments was not obeyed and no valid stay of execution was obtained by the Police whose operatives and vehicles are permanently stationed at the premises.
Irked by the development, a group under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Justice and Equity, petitioned the National Assembly, urging it to intervene in order “to save our democracy and insist on rule of law”.
Presenting the report of the investigation to the plenary on Wednesday, Chairman of the House Committee on Public Petitions, Hon. Nkem Abonta, said series of invitations were sent to the Inspector-General of Police to appear before the committee but he refused to honour.
Abonta also said, the committee obtained a document which showed that, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami wrote to the IGP and advised him to honour the subsisting court orders, “in absence of any appeal or valid stay of execution”.
He told the House that, a legal officer who represented the IGP at public hearing committed perjury, stressing that, “he lied under oath that there was a valid stay of execution”, but when time was given that he produced a proof of stay, he could not produce any.
Abonta expressed concern that, it would spell doom for Nigerian democracy and it would also give room to anarchy, if “an agency of the Federal Government (police) continues to disobey orders of the court”.
While adopting the recommendation of the committee, the House urged Police to comply with the subsisting court orders and the instruction from the AGF.
The police have 21 days from the commencement of Wednesday’s plenary, to vacate the properties of Peace Corps.