by Akan Ido
The Disciplinary Committee of the Nigeria Police Force are currently trying 195 senior officers for various offences.
Among the officers facing trial are four Assistant Inspectors General (AIGs) of Police, 17 Commissioners of Police (CPs), two Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) and six Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs).
The remaining ones range from the ranks of Chief Superintendents of Police (CSPs) down to Superintendents of Police (SPs).
The Chairman of the disciplinary committee, Suleman Dauda Fakai, told newsmen in Abuja that the trial will last from Monday till Friday.
The Force Disciplinary Committee (FDC) is a committee of the Force comprising all Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) of Police and the Force Secretary who is the Committee’s Secretary.
The committee mainly serves to review disciplinary matters involving senior officers from the rank of ASP and above who may have erred one way or the other in the course of their duties.
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Fakai told newsmen that the current management of the Force inherited over 3,000 cases, which, according to him, have been cleared.
He added: “From January this year till date, we have dismissed one CP, one ACP, one CSP, two SPs and eight ASPs.
“In the same period, we have also forcefully retired two CSPs, one SP and 13 ASPs.
“We have also reduced the ranks of one DCP, three CSPs, seven SPs, one DSP and 10 ASPs.”
He noted that for officers who are queried either from the Force Headquarters or officers who engage in misconduct in the various commands, “The query will be forwarded here together with the write-ups and the officers are expected to appear here and defend themselves on what they have done.”
“This committee will submit its findings and recommendations to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and finally to the Police Service Commission. The Police Service Commission will give the appropriate punishment.
“The punishment ranges from dismissal and prosecution, dismissal, reduction in rank, severe reprimand, warning letter, letter of advice or exoneration. (That means the person was found not to have committed the offence in question).”
He further stressed: “We want the general public to know that we are dealing with our senior officers as well as our junior officers. We have been doing this for a long time now but have not been involving the press.”
Meanwhile, the power of the police to prosecute crimes has again suffered a major setback, as a Federal High Court sitting in Lokoja held that prosecution of pipeline vandals has been transferred from the police to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
In a judgment delivered on June 17, Justice I.E. Ekwo said Section 3 (1) (f) (vi) of the NSCDC (Amendment) Act 2007 has expressly conferred the authority to investigate offence of oil pipeline vandalisstion and the power to initiate proceedings thereto on behalf of the Attorney General of the Federation to the NSCDC.
The judge said, “This means that even if it is the Nigeria Police that apprehended any person suspected to have committed such offence, it is the duty of the police to hand over such suspect to the NSCDC for prosecution.”
The case that resulted in the judgment was a one-count charge filed by the police against one Abuh Daniel who was said to have loaded one big storage tank with crude oil without licence, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 17 (a) and (b) Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 LFN 2004.
Upon perusing the charge, the judge raised the issue whether the Nigeria Police is the appropriate organ of government authorised by law to prosecute the offence.
He consequently asked the prosecutor and the defence to address him on the issue.
The judge noted that Section 1 (1) (f) of the NSCDC (Amendment) Act which gave the NSCDC power to arrest with or without warrant, detain, investigate and institute legal proceedings by or in the name of the AGF against any person reasonably suspected to have committed any offence particularly involving power transmission lines, or oil pipelines, NIPOST cables, equipment and water board pipes, has taken away the authority of the police to prosecute those who commit such offences.
The judge said: “What is in contention here is not whether the Nigeria Police has authority to institute criminal proceedings in the name of the AGF as the learned prosecuting counsel has argued. I hold the opinion that the issue of the power of the Nigeria Police to institute criminal proceedings in courts has been settled.
“Police authority can by virtue of Section 23 of the Police Act, Cap. 359 LFN; Section 56 of the Federal High Court Act, and Section 174 of the Constitution institute and continue proceedings.
“What confronts the court in this matter is whether the Nigeria Police in view of Section 3 (1) (f) (iv) of the NSCDC Act (as amended) which expressly gives authority to prosecute cases of oil pipeline vandalisation to the NSCDC can exercise the power to institute criminal proceedings on the same subject matter.”
The judge held that the provisions of the NSCDC Act were lucid and unambiguous.
He further held that the legislature had taken the authority to prosecute pipeline vandals from the police and conferred same on the NSCDC.