By David-Chyddy Eleke
A former governor of Anambra State, Mr Peter Obi, has urged the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) sitting in Awka, the state capital, to dismiss the petition of Mr Bonaventure Mokwe against him, describing it as an abuse of process.
Obi through his lawyer, Alex Ejesieme (SAN), said two litigations relating to the petition before the panel were before a Court of Appeal.
Ejesieme said the matters were in suit numbers 0/249/2014 and 0/200/2014 represented by Exhibit B2 and B1 respectively, where the petitioner was claiming damages amounting to about N5 billion and that asking for another N120 million from the panel amounted to abuse of process.
Mokwe, whose hotel, Upper Class, had been demolished by the Obi-led administration after it was linked to kidnap activities, had approached the panel seeking for compensation for the torture meted to him by the now disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
But Ejesieme speaking for Obi at the panel’s sitting on Thursday said: “While Mr Peter Obi and CSP James Nwafor (ex-SARS boss) were defendants in B2, Anambra Government, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice were defendants in B1 both of which Mr Bonaventure Mokwe was the claimant.”
He prayed the court to dismiss the complaints of Mokwe on four grounds including being subjudice, adding that the panel lacks jurisdiction to entertain the matter and being outside the terms of reference of the panel.
“The panel was set up to investigate police brutality and recommend compensation. Only victims of police brutality who have not pressed for damage in any court should come to the panel,” he said.
SP Innocent Obi, the legal representative of the police, aligned himself with the position of Obi’s counsel.
Responding to the prayers, Prof. Meshach Umenweke, counsel to Mokwe, said the application was misplaced and should not be granted as the applicant or Nwafor were not parties in the petition.
The Chairman of the panel, Hon. Justice Veronica Umeh (rtd), adjourned the matter to December 10, 2020 for ruling on the application.