Court orders police to pay Peace Corps officers N12.5m over unlawful arrest
A Federal High Court, Abuja, yesterday ordered the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) to pay a fine of N12.5 million to officers of the Peace Corps of Nigeria for unlawful arrest and detention in February.
The court also ordered the Police to immediately open the cooperate headquarters of the Peace Corps in Abuja, which was sealed since February 28, following Police invasion of the premises during its official commissioning.
Delivering judgment in a fundamental human rights suit instituted against the Police and others, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, held that the Police and other security agents that invaded the Peace Corps office, were reckless in their actions and that they acted outside their statutory powers.
In his judgment, Justice Kolawole ruled that the Police, who antagonised the Peace Corps, should not have acted the way and manner they carried out the arrest of the officials and barricaded their office.
The judge said while the Police and other security agents have statutory powers to arrest and detain, such powers must, however, be exercised with decorum and in compliance with relevant laws that protect the fundamental rights of Nigerians. In the instant case, Justice Kolawole held that the respondent failed to establish that Peace Corps officers committed any crimes before swooping on them.
Specifically, the judge noted that the allegation that the Peace Corps was engaging in military and paramilitary training for its officers and men was not established to have justified their actions.
Justice Kolawole agreed with counsel to Peace Corpse, Kanu Agabi, that under the law, the plaintiffs were entitled to own moveable and landed property, and that under no circumstances should any security agents deny them the opportunity to own properties as they did on February 28.
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