By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Nigeria Police Force, NPF, on Friday, withdrew the suit it filed to stop various panels of enquiry that are probing allegations of impunity and rights abuses by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.
The NPF withdrew the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, two days after it was lodged before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Though the court earlier slated December 18 to hear the matter, however, the Plaintiff, through another lawyer, Mr. Festus Ibude, filed a notice of discontinuance.
The notice, read: “Take notice that the plaintiff herein intends to and doth hereby wholly withdraws its suit against all the defendants.”
The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had on Thursday, disowned the suit that was lodged on behalf of the Force by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. O. M. Atoyebi.
The IGP further queried the legal section big the Force over alleged role they played in the institution of the legal action.
He said the police remained committed to fulfilling all its obligations with regards to the disbandment of the defunct SARS, the ongoing proceedings of the judicial panels, and all other police reforms.
A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, equally disclosed that officers that were involved in filing of the suit “may face further sanctions if found guilty of dereliction of duty”.
Specifically, the withdrawn suit had sought an order to restrain Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation and their various panels of enquiry, from going ahead with their investigations.
Among 104 Defendants listed in the suit included the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Human Rights Commission, Attorneys-General of the States, as well as Chairmen of panels that were recently set up by various States.
In the suit, Police, contended that decision by governors to set up panels of inquiry to investigate its activities and that of its officers in the conduct of their statutory duties, was in violation 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.
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The Plaintiff maintained 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 argued that action of the state governors in setting up the panels to probe the NPF was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Among other things, it sought 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.
As well as, “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”.