Police challenges legality of state judicial panels of inquiry probing police brutality

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The Police have instituted a lawsuit to stop the judicial panels of inquiry setup by different Governors in various states in the country to probe allegations of rights abuses and other acts of impunity against police officials, particularly operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The lawsuit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020 and filed for the NPF by its lawyer O. M. Atoyebi (SAN), has 104 defendants which include the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the attorneys-general of the states and chairmen of the panels set up by the states.

The police in the lawsuit sought for an order restraining the Attorneys-General of the 36 states and the panels of inquiry they constituted from proceedings with their investigation of the activities of the police and their officials, among other things.

According to the police, the decision to setup judicial panels of inquiry to investigate activities of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and their officials in the conduct of their statutory duties violate 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 Nation reported that the police which raised three questions for the court’s determination and also sought for four main reliefs, insisted that the provisions of 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution gave the Federal Government of Nigeria the exclusive power to “organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.”

Other reliefs the police is seeking include;

* A declaration that the establishment of 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.

* A declaration that having regard to the circumstances of this case, the attitude of the governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria in this case is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

* An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd to 38th defendants (the attorneys-general of the 36 states) from making or conducting any investigations, sittings and inquiries and/or from making or conducting any further investigations, sittings and inquiries in respect of matters affecting the Nigeria Police Force, and or further setting up any panel of inquiry in any state whatsoever in the country.