Nigerian Army Lacks Power To Investigate Crime, Arrest Or Detain Suspects — Court Rules

 Nigerian Army Lacks Power To Investigate Crime, Arrest Or Detain Suspects — Court Rules

By Joseph Ayinde

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, held that the Nigerian Army has no power to arrest, detain and investigate crimes.

Justice Taiwo Taiwo, while delivering judgment in a fundamental human rights enforcement suit filed by Miss Grace Anita Paul against the Chief of Army Staff, the Nigeria Army, Inspector General of Police and the Nigerian Police Force held that the Nigerian Army would be usurping the fun by delving into arrest, investigation and arrest over crime allegation.

Miss Paul had, in her suit alleged that officers of the Nigerian Army invaded her residence and abducted her to Mambilla Barracks in Abuja on October 24, 2019, where she was subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

She said she was kept in a guardroom with other male inmates and later transferred to the SARS where she was kept for more than two months without charge or trial.

Justice Taiwo, in his judgment held that the Nigerian Army lacks the power to arrest, investigate and hold in custody anyone who is not subject to the Armed Forces Act or any other military law.

While dismissing the objections of counsel to the Nigerian Army, A.A. Mohammed (SAN), the Judge held that the Military should not usurp the powers of the Nigerian Police under Sections 4 and 84 of the Police Act which empowers the Police to detect and investigate the crime.

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Counsel to the applicant, Akpomiemie Akpomiemie, had argued that the Military lacks the power under Section 217 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to arrest, detain and investigate anyone not subject to Military law.

Akpomiemie also argued that the detention of the Applicant by the defunct SARS of the Nigeria Police is illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional.

Justice Taiwo held that for democracy to thrive, all agencies of government should act within the law and awarded damages of N5 million against the 1st and 2nd Respondents (The chief of Army Staff and the Nigerian Army) and N10 million against the Inspector General of Police and the Nigerian Police Force sued as 3rd and 4th Respondent respectfully.

The Judge also made an order of perpetual Injunction restraining the Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Police from further violation of the rights of the applicant.

The court also ordered the Police to return all her seized items within seven days.

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