By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered banks to de-freeze 24 bank accounts of the Peace Corps of Nigeria (PCN). The court also questioned the integrity of the police on how it procured an early order to freeze the accounts..
The accounts were frozen at the instance of the police through an ex-parte order on June 23, 2017.
Following the earlier order, Mr. John Ojogu, on behalf of Peace Corps filed a motion on notice dated July 5, 2017, praying the court to vacate its post-no-debit order freezing its accounts.
The Corps also prayed for an order directing Diamond bank, and Stanbic IBTC to de-freeze its accounts.
Delivering ruling on the motion on notice, the court relied on the sole issue formulated by Mr. James Idachaba, counsel to police on “whether the ex parte order made by the court on June 23, 2017 is not liable to be discharged or vacated by the court.”
Justice John Tsoho described the arguments made by Idachaba, counsel to police in urging court to dismiss the application of Peace Corps as “great effort without effect”.
The court held that the motion ex-parte dated June 13, was filed by police in bad faith and amounted to gross abuse of court process.
The Judge noted that the police did not controvert the affidavit evidence of Peace Corps that facts were suppressed and issues misrepresented by police to obtain the ex-parte order that led to freezing of the PCN 24 bank accounts.
Justice Tsoho held that the police suppressed facts and misrepresented issues before securing the ex-parte order.
The court noted that the affidavit in support of motion ex parte was deposed to by one Sergeant Philip Tumba from the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Bureau (CIIB), Federal Capital Territory Police Command, whereas the charge against the Peace Corps was filed by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation.
More so, the court said the police lawyer failed to show in his affidavit in support of the motion ex-parte how the AGF authorized him to act on his behalf.
“This inconsistent posturing of the police adversely affected the validity of the ex parte order granted by this court on June 23, 2017,” Justice Tsoho said.
According to the judge, a magistrate court in Abuja had in February this year made an order on the issue, and was kept away from the court knowledge adding that for the police to suppress facts and misrepresent issues before the Federal High Court; “amounts to duplication of order”.
In addition, the court agreed with the submissions of counsel to Peace Corps that an “interim order” must be short.
“I therefore hold that if the police desired anything more, it should not have come to this court by way of motion ex-parte but through motion on notice seeking an injunction…. The interim order made by this court on June 23, 2017 is hereby discharged; the order is set aside. Prayers one and two of the Peace Corps are hereby granted,” Justice Tsoho declared.