One-time Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), has petitioned the incumbent Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to prevail on the Nigeria Police Force to obey subsisting court orders directing it to unseal the offices of Peace Corps of Nigeria nationwide.
Peace Corps is a non-governmental, uniformed youth organisation, that is committed to promoting national creativity, peace and youth development.
The corps which is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) was established by July 10, 1998 in Kaduna, North West Nigeria by youth development advocate and strategist, Amb (Dr) Dickson A. O. Akoh.
The organisation has been having a fierce running battle with the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and other security agencies for many years over its legal status with operatives of the police sealing off all known offices of the organisation nationwide.
Peace corps had won all 15 legal actions instituted against it with over N50m standing against various agencies as cost awarded in favour of the corps.
In a 7-page petition by Chief Agabi (SAN) which was annexed with various court judgements delivered in favour of PCN and other documents to prove that the Corps was a legal entity, he is appealing to AGF Malami to prevail on the police to release the Ondo state Commandant of the Corps, Patriot Alawoki Lukeman Oluwatobi who was arrested by the police on January 13, 2020 with the state office sealed.
Agabi said despite subsisting judgements and orders from various courts which were never upturned or appealed against, the Nigeria Police, through the Ondo state Commissioner, CP Undie Adie, on the 13th January, 2020, arrested the Ondo state Commandant of the Corps, Patriot Alawoki Lukeman Oluwatobi.
Oluwatobi was said to be at the CP’s office on a scheduled courtesy visit, alongside other affiliate bodies of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), the apex youth body in the country.
Chief Agabi, in his letter dated 16th January, 2020, disclosed to AGF Malami that, “the essence of visiting the Commissioner of Police is to exploit ways of how the youth leaders could compliment the effort of the Police in curtaining the crime situation of the state”.
He said, “immediately the NYCN leader introduced our client’s Commandant in Ondo state, Patriot Alawoki Lukeman Oluwatobi as a member of the delegation, the Commissioner of Police instantly reacted by declaring that his organization is illegal and that there is an existing circular to that effect from his Force Headquarters. He subsequently ordered immediate detention of the Commandant”.
Men of the Police also invaded the PCN office located at No 68, General Bajowa street, along Royal Bird Hotel, Leonard junction, Alagbaka, Akure, with heavy arms, “and in the process brutalized, molested and arrested some members of the Corps.
“They carted away valued items, including the PCN’s flag and sealed off the office, while some policemen have constantly been keeping vigils at the premises till date.
“We are aware that, at the point of search of our client’s premises at Ondo state the police had no search warrant or warrant of arrest neither was our client informed of any offence that has been committed.
“Unfortunately, this unprovoked and unwarranted act happened few days after the Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed A. Adamu NPM, MNI at the annual conference of the Police lawyers held at Force Headquarters Abuja had warned of the increasing judgment debts against the Police and asked the Police lawyers to ensure at all times that court orders are obeyed and enforced and that constitutional safe guards of both the suspect and citizen are protected”, Agabi added.
He averred that, by sealing off the PCN’s office in Ondo, the Police have violated the right of the organisation, which enjoys consultative status with the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU), to acquire and own immovable property and disrupted its lawful activities.
The former AGF also reminded Malami of the continuous blockage of the national secretariat of PCN, Abuja, by the Police since February 2017, despite 2 court orders and the resolution of the House of Representatives in 2018, that the Police should vacate the premises.
Mr. Malami, as the Chief Law Officer of the federation, had in March 2018, written to the former IGP Ibrahim Idris, urging him to unseal the PCN office in Abuja, “in absence of any pending appeal or proof of stay of execution”; but the Police refused to honour the AGF.
Chief Agabi’s 7-page petition was copied to the Force Headquarters, the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Public Prosecution, Federal Ministry of Justice.
Agabi is relying on section 150(1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, as amended, to urge the AGF to direct the Police Boss, who is the Chief Law Enforcement Officer, “to comply with the subsisting and valid orders of various courts of competent jurisdiction herein attached in respect of this matter but not limited to the unsealing of our client’s offices nationwide”.