Police Ask Court To Stop judicial Panel Probe Allegations Of Police Brutality
The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking an order to stop the judicial panels of inquiry set up by state governors to probe allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police tactical units.
The NPF, through their lawyer, Mr O. M. Atoyebi, argued in the suit that the state governments lacked the power to constitute the panels to investigate activities of the police force and its officials in the conduct of their statutory duties.
In the suit, the police urged the court to restrain the Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation and their various panels of inquiry from going ahead with the probe focussing on police impunity.
According to the police the state governments’ decision to set up such panels violated the provisions of section 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act.
The Police argued that by virtue of the provisions of 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Nigerian Constitution only the Federal Government had exclusive power to “organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force”.
It, therefore, urged the court to declare that “the establishment of a panel of inquiries by the governors of the various states of the federation of Nigeria, to inquire into the activities of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the discharge of her statutory duties is a gross violation of the provisions of Section 241 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, Cap.T21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.
The NPF said the action of the State Governors “is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
It asked the court to restrain the defendants from conducting any investigation or setting up panels to probe the affairs of the security agency.
Although the case was listed for December 3, it has been rescheduled for December 18 as the court where the matter was listed did not sit.
The defendants who were sued by the NPF, include the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which set up the Independent Investigative Panel sitting in Abuja, the Attorneys-General of the 36 states, and chairmen of the states’ panels.