Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, Southeast Nigeria has asked the Judicial Panel of Inquiry (JPI) sitting in Awka, the state capital to dismiss a petition by Bonaventure Mokwe, owner of Upper-Class Hotel, Onitsha.
Obi who made the application through his lawyer, Alex Ejesieme (SAN) said the petition was an abuse of court process because there were two pending litigations relating to it 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 he was claiming damages amounting to about N5 billion, noting that asking for another N120 million was an abuse of process.
He said while Peter Obi and James Nwafor, a Chief Superintendent of Police ( CSP) were defendants in B2, Anambra State Government, Attorney General and Commission for Justice were defendants in B1 both of which Mokwe was the Claimant.
The Senior Counsel who filed a response to Mokwe’s petitions prayed the panel to dismiss the Mokwe’s complaints on four grounds including being sub-judice, panel’s lack of jurisdiction to entertain the matter and being outside the terms of reference of the panel.
He said the panel was set up to investigate police brutality and recommend compensation, stressing that it cannot do much without considering the allegations against his principal who is a private citizen already in court with the petitioner.
According to him, only victims of police brutality who have not pressed for damage in any court should come to the panel.
He said other victims who may have had their cases determined or pending in a competent court of jurisdictions do not have to approach the panel.
Innocent Obi, the legal representative of the police aligned himself with the position of Obi’s counsel.
On his part, 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.
Umenweke said the petition was pressing for compensation from Police and not damages.
He said the panel should entertain it as the outcome would not have effect on Obi arguing that the panel had powers to hear the petition.
The counsel also filed an addendum which was admitted by the panel.
The panel expressed embarrassment over media reports on first hearing that it invited Peter Obi adding that it did not at any time do so.
Hon. Justice Veronica Umeh, Chairman of the panel adjourned to Dec. 10 for ruling on application of Obi.
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