Court of Appeal, Abuja Division has held that the Nigeria Police Force can prosecute all offences, including those under the National Security and Civil Defence Corps Act, 2007.
According to a statement issued yesterday by the Force Public Relations Officer, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu, the appellate court ruling was delivered sequel to an appeal in Federal Republic of Nigeria, FRN VS Daniel Abuh, where the Federal High Court held that the Nigeria Police Force lacks the vires to prosecute cases of pipelines vandalism brought under the miscellaneous offences Act, 2004.
Ojokwu said, dissatisfied with the ruling, the Police appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which in allowing the appeal held that, pursuant to Section 214, 211, 174 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 23 of the Police Act, a Police officer can prosecute any case whether or not it is laid in his name.
Nigerian Pilot recalls that a Federal High Court in Lokoja, Kogi state had in June 2013 ruled that the Police lacked power to prosecute pipeline vandals since the 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 vandalisation 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.

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