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Police begs court to stop ongoing probes by judicial panels

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The Nigeria Police Force has begun moves to stop the ongoing probe panels set up by various states to look into allegations of rights abuses, torture, extra-judicial killings and other acts of impunity by members of the force, particularly operatives of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The probe panels which have been sitting in almost all the states, were set up around the country to investigate alleged infractions by SARS operatives which came as an aftermath of the nationwide #EndSARS protests by Nigerian youths in October.

In the suit filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, the Police is seeking an order restraining the Attorneys-General of the 36 states and the FCT, and the panels of inquiry they constituted, from proceedings with their investigation of the activities of the police and their officials.

The suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, filed on behalf of the Nigeria Police Force by its lawyer, O. M. Atoyebi (SAN), has 104 defendants, including 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.

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In its main contention, the Police aver that the decision by governors to set up 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 Police insist that in view of the provisions of sections of the Constitution cited, the “Federal Government of Nigeria has exclusive power to organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.”

Other reliefs being sought by the Police are:

“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.”

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