At the resumed drug trafficking trial of Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, yesterday, January 18, the suspended police officer challenged the powers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to prosecute him.
Kyari, who is currently facing an eight-count charge alongside four members of his police Intelligence Response team; ACP Sunday J. Ubia, ASP Bawa James, Insp. Simon Agirigba and Insp. John Nuhu, claimed that the charges are all defective.
His lawyer, Mr Nureni Jimoh, SAN, told the court that the charge was premature and that the NDLEA should have allowed the police to exhaust its internal machinery before it instituted the action.
Jimoh further claimed that the police had already commenced an investigation into allegations against his client and issued an interim report.
Asides from arguing that his client can only be charged to court upon conclusion of the internal investigation by the police, the lawyer also stated that the Police Service Commission (PSC) has similar powers to investigate and discipline erring police officers in line with the Police Act & Regulations, the same way the National Judicial Council, NJC, discipline judicial officers.
He urged the court to strike out the charge and discharge him. Jimoh’s application was also adopted by the other Defendants who prayed the court to terminate further proceedings in the charge against them.
This was however countered by NDLEA’s Director of Legal Services, Mr Sunday Joseph, who asked the court to dismiss the defendants’ preliminary objection.
Joseph argued that what the agency brought before the court was a criminal case for the violation of laws and not a disciplinary action for the infringement of police service rules.
He added that unlike the Armed Forces Act that made provision for establishment of a Court Martial, the Police Act, expressly stated that police officers are not exempted from any criminal liability under the law.
NDLEA further argued that if it was the duty of the police to investigate or prosecute drug-related cases, it would not have transferred such cases to it.
”It was the police itself that brought this matter to us, knowing that it has no power to handle cases that fall under the NDLEA Act.
“Powers of police does not include selling of hard drugs that were seized. That is what we classify as tampering and that is the charge the Defendants are facing before this court.
“It is the Police Act itself that says that police officers can be charged. The 1st Defendant, Kyari, was even on suspension when he committed the offence.
”The Applicants have not by way of an affidavit or legal argument, established any condition precedent required for the filing of this charge. To that extent, their application must fail as it is misconceived and bereft of any legal or factual structure.
“We urge my lord to dismiss the application and proceed to hear of the matter”
Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the matter till March 22 for a ruling after listening to the arguments.