On Thursday, Mr. Peter Obi, the former governor of Anambra, urged the police brutality inquiry panel in Awka to discount Mr. Bonaventure Mokwe’s petition.
At the re-hearing of Mokwe’s petition against his unlawful arrest, torture, imprisonment and demolition of his hotel, Upper Class Hotel Onitsha, Obi made a prayer through his lawyer, Alex Ejesieme (SAN).
Obi told the Inquiry that the petition was a misuse of the court process, as the Court of Appeal already has two litigation cases related to the same issue.
According to him the cases are in suit numbers 0/249/2014 and 0/200/2014, represented at the Court of Appeal by Exhibits B2 and B1, respectively, where he pleaded damages amounting to approximately N5 billion.
He said that a continuation of the allegations in another court where a complainant was asking for another N120 million was an abuse of court procedure.
He claimed that it was unfair for someone to be seeking three damages for one matter.
“Mr Peter Obi and Chief Police Superintendent (CSP) James Nwafor, the Awkuzu SARS Commander, are B2 defendants, Anambra Government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice are B1 defendants, both of whom Mokwe is the plaintiff,” he said.
Through his counsel, Obi advised the panel to dismiss the complaints on four grounds, including subjudice, the absence of jurisdiction of the panel to hear the matter and to be beyond the panel’s terms of reference.
The lawyer noted that the commission was set up to investigate and recommend compensation for police abuse.
According to him, given the charges against him as a private citizen already in court with the petitioner, his client did not fall into that category.
As a matter of fact, the panel can only discuss victims of police abuse who have not filed for damages in any court.
He said that other people might have had their cases decided or pending before a competent court of jurisdiction.
The legal agent of the police, SP Innocent Obi, associated himself with the role of Obi’s lawyer.
For his part, Mokwe’s lawyer, Prof. Meshach Umenweke, said that Obi’s request for the inquiry was misplaced and should not be granted.
He found that neither the complainant nor Nwafor were parties to the petition.
Umenweke said the petitioner was calling for police compensation and not ‘damages’ saying it should be entertained by the tribunal.
He said that the result would not impact Obi, claiming that the tribunal had the jurisdiction to hear the petition.
An addendum was also filed by the prosecutor, which was accepted by the court.
The Chairman of the court, Justice Veronica Umeh, adjourned to Dec. 10 for a decision on Obi’s appeal.