Abba Kyari, the embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), has stated that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) lacks the authority to prosecute him for alleged drug trafficking.
Kyari, the former head of the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT), is accused of tampering with cocaine seized from two convicted drug dealers, Chibunna Patrick Umeibe and Emeka Alphonsus Ezenwanne.
Kyari is facing an eight-count charge against him and four members of his team, including Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Sunday J. Ubia, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agirigba, and Inspector John Nuhu.
Kyari, through his lawyer, Mr Nureni Jimoh, SAN, maintained that the charge against him was legally defective during the resumption of proceedings on Wednesday.
The police officer told the court that the charge was premature and that the NDLEA should have given police time to exhaust their internal resources before taking action.
He informed the court that the Police had already begun an investigation into the allegations levelled against him and had issued an interim report.
Kyari insisted that he could only be charged in court once the police’s internal investigation was completed.
He contended that the Police Service Commission, PSC, has the same powers as the National Judicial Council, NJC, to investigate and discipline erring police officers in accordance with the Police Act and Regulations.
As a result, Kyari petitioned the court to dismiss the charge and release him.
His application was also supported by the other defendants, who asked the court to dismiss the charge against them.
The NDLEA, through its Director of Legal Services, Sunday Joseph, urged the court in its submission to dismiss the Defendants’ preliminary objections, which it claimed were based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the law.
NDLEA argued in a counter-affidavit filed before the court that what it brought before the court was a criminal case for violating laws, not a disciplinary action for violating police service rules.
It informed the court that, unlike the Armed Forces Act, which provided for the establishment of a Court Martial, the Police Act expressly stated that police officers are not immune from criminal prosecution under the law.
The NDLEA also claimed that if it was the police’s responsibility to investigate or prosecute drug-related cases, it would not have transferred such cases to them.
The agency revealed that it was the police who brought this matter to them, despite the fact that it has no authority to handle cases under the NDLEA Act.
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