Those accused in the suit filed by the police include the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Human Rights Commission which set up the Independent Investigative Panel sitting in the nations’ capital Abuja, the Attorneys-general of the states, and chairmen of the states’ panels.
Meanwhile, the decision to set up the various judicial panels of inquiry was taken by the NEC, whose members include the Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the country’s 36 state governors in the aftermath of the recent nationwide #EndSARS protests, with demonstrators demanding an end to police brutality and bad government.
The country’s Police through its lawyer O.M Atoyebi argued that the establishment of panels of inquiry by the state governors to investigate the activities of the force “is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever” and also violates “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 argued that by virtue of the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution only the Federal Government had exclusive power to “organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force”.
Parts of the suit read: “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.”
The case has been rescheduled for December 18 as the federal high court in Abuja did not sit Thursday.
By Abel Ejikeme