By Yemi Itodo
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, has reserved June 11, for rulling on an application to discontinue a 13 amended count charge against the National Commandant of Peace Corps of Nigeria, Amb. (Dr.) Dickson Akoh.
The Nigeria Police had, in March 2017, filed a 90-count charge against Akoh but later amended it to 13-count charge, after it was observed that most of the charges were repetitive.
But Counsel to the defendant and former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) approached the court where extant matter was being heard, urging the Presiding Judge, John Tsoho to discontinue the criminal proceedings.
In the 16-paragraph motion filed on the 19th February, 2018, the defence counsel said the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Kpotum Idris and other parties in the extant suit, having flagrantly disobeyed subsisting orders of the court, should not be allowed to continue prosecuting the suit filed against Akoh.
Leading a debate on the application on Tuesday, Head of Kanu Agabi Chamber, John Ochogwu (Esq), said “the flagrant disobedience to court orders is an affront” on the Presiding Judge; adding that, “the application is simply an invitation for this honourable court to exert her powers”.
Citing section 36(6) b. of the 1999 constitution as amended, Ochogwu said “A defendant should be allowed time and facilities to defend himself. The office and some of the facilities of the defendant have been under lock since 1 year and 2 months. There is no way the defendant can defend himself when his facilities have been seized by the complainant”.
Ochogwu submitted that section 287 of the constitution empowers the court to enforce her own judgements, adding that, when prayers in the motion are granted, it would “serve as a deterrent to the executive or other arm of government which tend to disobey the orders of the court”.
In his submission, Counsel to the Nigeria Police, Don Obor (Esq), urged the court not to grant the application.
Obor cited the Supreme Court judgement in FRN against Saraki and Metuh vs FRN, saying the criminal proceedings against Akoh should be allowed to continue.
But this was countered by the defence counsel, Ochogwu, who averred that, “neither Saraki nor Olisa Metuh violated court orders”, adding that, in the extant case, “the complainant (Police Boss) has continued to disobey orders of the court”.
“You don’t have business being here if you cannot obey court orders. The essence of our democracy will be truncated with these attitudes of the complainant”, Ochogwu told court.
He, however, said his client was not afraid of the charges prefered against him, adding that, the defendant was ready to continue with the case, but the Police should unseal the offices of Peace Corps, which have facilities for defence under lock.
Justice Tsoho adjourned ruling on the application to 11th June.
Recall that, Justice Gabriel Kolawole had ruled on a N2bn human rights enforcement suit in November 2017, asking the Police to unseal the facilities of Peace Corps of Nigeria located in Jabi Abuja, while awarding N12.5m damages against the Police.
Also, Justice John Tsoho in a separate suit, delivered judgement on 15th January, 2018, that the National Headquarters of Peace Corps be unsealed.
None of the judgements was obeyed and no valid stay of execution was obtained by the Police.
The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, had also, in February 2018, ordered that the Police Boss obeyed the subsisting court orders and unseal the office, but the complex, which has been under siege since February 28th 2017, has remained as such till date.
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