SARS: Nigeria Police Force on Wednesday approached the Federal High Court in Abuja asking it to stop judicial panels of inquiry probing into alleged police brutality.
The judicial panels of inquiry were set up in most states of the country by governors to probe allegations of police brutality and human rights abuses of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad and other police tactical units.
The NEC had said the panels would receive and investigate complaints of police brutality or related extra-judicial killings with a view to delivering justice for all victims of the dissolved SARS and other police units.
But Police authorities, through their lawyer, Mr. O. M. Atoyebi, argued in the suit that the action of state governors was “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”
It added 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 police urged the court to restrain the Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the Federation and their various panels of inquiry from going ahead with the probe.
According to the police, 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 police also argued 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 case, formerly scheduled for December 3, has however, been rescheduled for December 18 as the Federal High Court in Abuja did not sit.
The panels are led by retired judges from each state. Its membership include civil society groups, the Human Rights Commission, Citizens Mediation Centre, and two youth representatives.