The National Commandant of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN), Amb. (Dr.) Dickson Akoh, was on Tuesday discharged of the 13-count criminal charges preferred against him by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Kpotum Idris.
The Nigeria Police had, in March 2017, slammed Akoh with a 90-count charge but later amended it to 13-count charge, after it was observed that most of the charges were repetitive.
But Justice John Tsoho, while ruling on a motion of notice filed by Barrister John Ochogwu, on behalf of Kanu Agabi Chamber, described the action of the Police as an”impunity”, saying the Police authority lacks moral justification to prosecute Akoh in the criminal matter, until the Police Boss obeys subsisting court orders emanating from the suit.
Ochogwu, had, during a debate on the motion of May 8, said, “A defendant should be allowed time and facilities to defend himself. The office and some of the facilities of the defendant have been under lock since 1 year and 2 months. There is no way the defendant can defend himself when his facilities have been seized by the complainant”.
Ochogwu submitted that, section 287 of the constitution empowers the court to enforce her own judgements, adding that, when prayers in the motion are granted, it would “serve as a deterrent to the executive or other arm of government which tend to disobey the orders of the court”.
Justice Tsoho in his ruling, berated the police boss for disobeying “orders of court of competent jurisdiction”, adding that, “The act of the complainant/respondent is a flagrant abuse of the fundamental rights of the defendant/applicant”.
The Judge asked Akoh to go home, until when the police and the IGP are ready to obey court orders and unseal Peace Corps office.
“Justice is not for one party, justice is a multi edges sword. This court is mindful of Ochogwu’s written address, where he stated that, according to section 36(6b) of the 1999 constitution, that a defendant is entitled to adequate time and facilities to defend himself.
“If the complainant wishes to continue with the matter, he should be ready to obey court orders. No person or institution should be seen to be above the law.
“This case will continue when concrete evidences are shown that the complainant has obeyed subsisting court judgements,” Justice Tsoho ruled.
It will be recalled that, the Police clamped down on the Peace Corps of Nigeria on February 28th, 2017, arresting the National Commandant and 49 others, while sealing off the National Headquarters located at Jabi, Abuja.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, however, had ruled in November 2017, asking the Police to unseal the facilities of Peace Corps of Nigeria, while awarding N12.5m damages against the Police.
Also, Justice John Tsoho in a separate suit, delivered judgement on 15th January, 2018, that the National Headquarters of Peace Corps be unsealed.
None of the judgements was obeyed and no valid stay of execution was obtained by the Police.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, had also, in February 2018, ordered that the Police Boss obeyed the subsisting court orders and unseal the office, but the complex, which has been under siege since February 28th 2017, has remained as such till date.
This was even as the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had written to the the Police Boss, advising him to obey court orders and unseal the office, “in absence of any appeal or valid stay of execution”.
The office, which the Peace Corps Commandant claimed to be paying N13.5m rent annually, is still under lock and keys with heavy presence of Police personnel and trucks.
Reacting to the ruling, the Peace Corps Boss, Akoh, said the court has clearly shown that it is the last hope of the common man.
Akoh said, “the Police knew they had nothing against us, they were only witchhunting us because they didn’t want the President to sign the Peace Corps Bill. They were not prosecuting me, but they were persecuting me, we have been vindicated”.
He, however, said he was not afraid of being prosecuted, adding that, he had enough materials to defend himself, but the Police should unseal his facilities and allow him have access to his materials for defence.
Neither the Police nor its counsel was at the court on Tuesday.
When contacted, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Legal Services at the Force Headquarters, David Igbodo, affirmed that the Police was no longer interested in the case.
“We are no longer interested in the matter. You can contact the office of the AGF,” CP Igbodo told our reporter.