The NCICC frowns at the illegality and unconstitutionality of the ‘python dance’ instituted by the Nigerian Military to curb an insurection that does not exist. it is an aberration and a flagrant disregard to the rights of civilians in the country.
Although the President is empowered by virtue of section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law order” he cannot exercise the power until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance which cannot be contained by the police. the police by virtue of section 215(3) was created and empowered to maintain peace and public safety, not the army.
Since there was no insurrection in Abia State which the Nigeria Police Force could not contain, the deployment of armed troops by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces cannot be justified in law.
However, if the federal government has evidence of other criminal offences recently committed by Mr. Kanu the Police should have been directed to arrest him and charge him to court without any delay.
“Neither the Constitution nor the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 has empowered the Nigeria Army to arrest any citizen who is not subject to service law.
In Yussuf v Obasanjo (2005) 18 NWLR (Pt 956) 96 the Court of Appeal held that “It is up to the police to protect our nascent democracy and not the military, otherwise the democracy might be wittingly or unwittingly militarized. This is not what the citizenry bargained for in wrestling power from the military in 1999. Conscious steps should be taken to civilianise the polity to ensure the survival and sustenance of democracy”.
Regrettably, no conscious efforts have been made by the civilian government to demilitarise the country since power was transferred from former military dictators to the civilian wing of the political class in May 1999. Hence, armed soldiers have been allowed to continue to be involved in the maintenance of law and order in all the states of the federation. Up till now, state governments have allowed armed soldiers to remain members of the police anti robbery squads. They have been deployed, from time to time, by the President to deal with the menace of herdsmen and kidnappers. They have just been authorized to deal ruthlessly with civilians who are involved in any form of agitation for self determination.
“There is no legal basis for authorizing the Nigerian army to take over police duties. Even under the defunct military era in Nigeria the military dictators had to declare a state of emergency to legitimize the usurpation of police powers by the armed forces. But under a democratic dispensation the President and Commander-in-chief of the armed forces lacks the power to deploy members of the armed forces in the maintenance of internal security in any part of the country. We may want to recall that in waging the war on terror in the north east region, a state of emergency was declared by President Jonathan to justify the deployment of members of the armed forces as part of the extraordinary measures required by him to restore law and order pursuant to section 305 of the Constitution. Thereafter, the President sought and obtained the approval of the National Assembly for the said deployment of the armed forces.
The coalition therefore urge Mr President to order the withdrawal of the troops from Abia state and allow the commissioner of police to efficiently dispense his duties.