Law and order broke down for several hours in the Jabi District of Abuja when policemen opened live bullets and tear gas against some members of civil groups who were protesting the continued closure of the Corporate Headquarters of the Peace Corps of Nigeria in spite the two different court judgments against police.
The civil groups, who stormed the sealed office as early as 8:00am in a peaceful protest, were demanding that the office located at 57, Iya Abubakar Crescent, Off Alex Ekwueme Way, Jabi, Abuja be opened for the owners in compliance with two judgments of the federal high court, Abuja.
Trouble however started when fully armed police in five pick-up vans arrived the scene and ordered the protesters to disperse immediately.
The police got angry when the protesters who carried placards with various inscriptions attempted to engage them in dialogue on their mission.
In the confusion that ensued, the police fired gunshots sporadically and also tear gassed the group which also comprised some officers and men of the Peace Corps.
During the shootout, two of the protesters were shot in the head and in the legs.
Although the protesters who were heavily tear gassed beat retreat for few minutes due to the harsh effect of the tear gas, they however re-grouped and continued their demand for the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to obey court order and show respect for the rule of law.
The two protesters who received gunshots were put in one of the pick-up vans of police with demands that police be responsible for their hospital treatment and which police complied with to save their lives.
In the end, the police led by an Assistant Police Commissioner Mr. Danladmi Yusuf Taura resorted to dialogue and pleaded with the civil group officers to continue to be peaceful and also promised to convey their message to the police highest authorities.
Taura declined to answer questions from the hordes of Journalists at the scene of the protest and referred them to the Police Force Public Relations Officer Mr. Jimoh Moshood.
However when contacted on phone, the police spokesman said that it was the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command that deployed police to the scene and pleaded that he be given time to speak with the Commissioner of Police in the command.
PRNigeria stayed that at the time of this report, the Public Relations Officer did not call back.
Earlier, the National Commandant of the Peace Corps, Ambassador Dickson Akoh had appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to call the IGP to order.
Akoh, while addressing the protesters, specifically pleaded with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, SAN, to show concern to the refusal of police to obey court orders and the rule of laws.
The Commandant claimed that his organization rented the office at a yearly sum of N13.8m adding that since February 28, 2017, when police invaded the office, his men and officer have not been allowed to access the office complex.
“I plead with police to allow us to continue to operate as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). We attempted to become a statutory body within the confines of the law but regrettably, police fought us to standstill and sealed up our office without any just cause.
“The two chambers of the National Assembly passed a bill that the Peace Corps be made a statutory body but Mr. President declined to give assent to the bill and yet, police have refused to leave our office for us to operate in spite of the two court orders that they vacate the office for us.
“The police have achieved their aim of sabotaging the Peace Corps from becoming a statutory body, so they should leave us alone. They should allow us to access our office on the order of two of the federal high court”.
At the time of this report, a heavy police truck with no, NPF 3641C had been used to effectively block the entrance of the office complex by police in despite the two court orders pasted on the gate.