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Illegal Invasion : Peace Corps Floors Police in Court, To Receive N12.5m Compensation

The legal tussle between the Nigerian Police and the Peace Corps of Nigeria took a new dimension yesterday as the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the Police to pay N12.5 million to the Corps as compensation for unlawful arrest and detention of its officials.

The court also ordered the Police to unseal the headquarters of the corps in Abuja, which was sealed since Feb. 28, when Police invaded the premises during the official inauguration of the building.

Justice Gabriel Kolawale gave the order on Thursday when he delivered judgment in a fundamental human rights suit instituted by the corps against the Police and five others.

The judge held that the Police and the other security agents involved in the sealing of the Peace Corps premises acted outside their statutory powers.

Kolawale said that the Police and other security agents had statutory powers to make arrest and detain people, but that such powers must be exercised within the ambits of the law.

He held that the Police failed to establish that the Peace Corps officials committed a crime before they arrested and detained them.

The judge further said that the allegations by the Police and other respondents that the Peace Corps was engaging in military and paramilitary training was not sufficiently established before him to justify their unlawful action.

According to the judge, the allegation of extortion of money and the alleged threat to national security made against the Peace Corps officials was not backed with any document from the victims.

He also faulted the claim by the Police that it invaded the Peace Corps house based on intelligence report.

He described the claim as amorphous as there was no evidence before the court to justify it.

The judge held that the Peace Corps, as a lawfully registered organisation, was entitled to own movable and immovable property and that under no circumstance should any security agent deny the corps this right.

Reacting shortly after the judgement in Calabar, Cross River State Commandant  of the Corps, Patriot Okweche Dominic expressed satisfaction with the verdict even as he sued for synergy with the Police and other security agencies to ensure peace and stability of Nigeria.

Okweche said that there was no victor nor vanquish in the judgement as both the corps and Police working for the same purpose which is ensuring and maintaining peace in the country.

According to him, "I'm glad that the court has again put an end to the unnecessary tussle between Peace Corps and Police. For us, there's no victor nor vanquish because  contrary to what people say, we're not here to struggle or take the job of any security agency but to work in synergy to achieve peace which is the essence of the existence of all security agencies across the globe.

"We are not working across board. We want to work with the Police and other agencies to ensure peace and stability in our dear country. We are here to complement the efforts of others so now that the judgement has come and gone, it's time for all concerned stakeholders to come together and build bridges for the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians".
Peace Corps of Nigeria 6191717384220876056

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