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IGP distances Police from anti-EndSARS panel suit, orders investigations

By Monsurudeen Olowoopejo

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Muhammad Adamu, has distanced the Nigerian Police from the suit purportedly challenging legality of the States’ Judicial Panel of Inquiry, investigating allegations of brutality and human rights abuses leveled by citizens against officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other police tactical units.
Adamu, however, directed immediate investigations into the suit and role alleged played by the Force Legal Section including its Head in challenging the panel tagged EndSARS panel, legality across the country.
Through a statement made available to The Guild and signed by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Frank Mba, the Police boss reiterated the commitment of the Force to fulfilling all its obligations with regards to the disbandment of the defunct SARS, the ongoing Judicial Panels and all other police reforms.
The statement released yesterday reads: “The Inspector-General of Police has directed immediate investigations into a suit purportedly challenging the legality of the States’ Judicial Panel of Inquiry, investigating allegations by citizens against officers of the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“The IGP, who gave the order on the heels of trending reports in the media, today 3rd December, 2020, expressed the disapproval of the Force Management Team on the matter and ordered investigations into the alleged role of the Force Legal Section including its Head. Meanwhile, the Force Legal Officer has been queried and may face further sanctions if found guilty of dereliction of duty”.
This came hours after security outfit filed a suit at the Federal High Court sitting in Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja to grant an order seeking to stop the judicial panels of inquiry in all the 36 states in Nigeria.

The police, through their lawyer, O. M. Atoyebi, argued that the state governments lacked the power to constitute the panels to investigate activities of the police force and its officials in the conduct of their statutory duties.

The defendants who were sued by the NPF, include the Attorney-General of the Federation, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) which set up the Independent Investigative Panel sitting in Abuja, the Attorneys-General of the states, chairmen of the states’ panels, and 100 others.

In the suit marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, the plaintiff maintained that it was only the Federal Government was backed by the constitution to probe activities of the police and its personnel.

The police also urged the court to restrain the Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation and their various panels of inquiry from continuing with the ongoing probe across the country.

The plaintiff, in the suit, argued that the state governments’ decision to set up such panels violated the provisions 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.

The force 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 Nigeria Police Force”.

The police urged the court to declare that “the establishment of a 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.”

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