By Kunle Olasanmi, Abuja
Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court in Abuja, yesterday ordered the Nigerian Police Force to pay a fine of N12.5m compensation to officials of the Peace Corps of Nigeria for their unlawful arrest and detention on February 28, 2017.
Justice Kolawole also ordered police to immediately unseal the corporate headquarters of the Peace Corps in Abuja sealed since February 28, 2017 when police invaded the premises during its official commissioning.
In his judgment in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit instituted against the police and others, the court held that police and the other security agents involved in the invasion of Peace Corps house were reckless in their action and acted outside their statutory powers.
The court also held that the police who acted as real antagonists to the existence of the Peace Corps have no business to have acted the way and manner they carried out the arrest and detention of the Peace Corps men and for also barricading their office ten months ago.
The judge agreed that the police and other security agents have statutory powers to make arrest and detention but, however, said that such powers must be exercised with decency, decorum and in compliance with relevant laws that protect the fundamental rights of the Nigerian citizenry.
In the instant case, Justice Kolawole held that the respondents failed to establish that the Peace Corps officials were committing crime or have committed crimes when they swooped on them and clamped them into detention in a day they were commissioning their corporate head office.
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