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Illegal detention: Court orders police to pay N12. 5m compensation to Peace Corps officials

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The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has ordered the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), to pay the sum of N12.5m as compensation to officials of Peace Corps of Nigeria who were unlawfully arrested, brutalised and illegally detained since February 28.

The court further ordered the Police to immediately unsealed the corporate headquarters of the Peace Corps situated in Abuja, which was sealed since February 28, when police invaded the premises during its official commissioning.

The fundamental human rights enforcement suit was filed against the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector General of Police, the National Security Adviser, the Department of State Security Service and it’s Director General and the Attorney General of the Federation, by the Incorporated Trustees of the Peace Corps of Nigeria on behalf of the National Commandant, Dickson Akor and 49 others.

Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the police and other security agencies involve in the invasion of the were reckless in their action and acted outside their statutory powers.

In the judgment that lasted for about two hours, Justice Kolawole held that the police who acted as real antagonist to the existence of Peace Corps have no business to have acted the way and manner they carried out the arrest of the Peace Corps official and sealing off their office for about 10 months ago.

The court agreed that the police and other security agencies have statutory powers to make arrest, however. Such powers must be exercised with decorum and in compliance with relevant laws and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.

In the instant case, justice Kolawole held that the respondents failed to established that the peace corps officials have committed crime when they swooped on them.

Specifically, the judge said that the allegations by police and others that the peace corps was engaging in military and para-military training was not established to justify their unlawful actions.

Justice Kolawole said that the allegations of extortion of money from innocent Nigerians and the threat to national security made against the peace corps officials was not established with any document of the corps.

The court also faulted the claim by police that the acted on an intelligent report to have invaded the wad amorphous as there was nothing placed before the court to established the claim.

“The respondents have not furnished the court with materials to prove that the acts of the applicants amounts to threat to national security.

“Security agencies should not take refuge under amorphous and cover of “Security Reports” which have not been produced in this court to trample on the rights of citizens.

“The pending criminal charge against the applicant which the respondents made reference to did not show that the applicants are operating a security outfit or a para- military outfit, but rather the charge borders on money laundering and Advanced Fee Fraud.

On the allegations by the Police that Peace Corps of Nigeria was an illegal organisations, the court held that the legality of the Peace Corps had been affirmed by four court judgments attached to the suits.

Justice Kolawole held that Peace Corps of Nigeria as a registered body has the right to acquire property which cannot be illegally sealed with evidence that it was acquired with the proceeds of crime.

The report of the search warrant on the house of the Commandant of the Peace Corps exhibited by the police did not show anything incriminating.

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