The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has faulted the constitution of the judicial panels of inquiry set up by state governors to probe allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other police tactical units, saying such was beyond the powers of governors.
This is coming as the security outfit also filed a suit at the Federal High Court in 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 (SAN), 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 the 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.”