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Government & Politics

Nigerian Army lacks legal authority to declare civilians wanted – Falana

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Activist lawyer, Femi Falana, on Monday, said the Nigerian Military has no “legal authority” to declare three civilians wanted in connection with the battle against Boko Haram insurgency.

Recall that the Army recently declared a journalist; Ahmed Salkida, a lawyer; Aisha Wakil and a social worker, Ahmed Bolori wanted over their links with Boko Haram insurgents, after the group released a video on August 14 showing the abducted Chibok girls.

But the Senior Advocate, in a statement said only the Nigerian Police Force and the Department of State Services, DSS, is empowered by the constitution to declare civilians wanted.

According to Falana, by declaring the trio wanted, the Army “breached the fundamental right” of the suspects to “fair hearing.”

Falana said, “Thus, by declaring the three persons wanted without any legal authority, the army has usurped the statutory powers of both the Police and the SSS.

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“In the process, it has breached the fundamental rights of the ‘suspects’ to personal liberty, dignity of the person and fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Falana said the deceision of the Army to declare the trio “wanted” is “ultra vires, illegal and unconstitutional in every material particular.

“Realizing that we are under a constitutional democracy which requires that the infringement of the rights of any citizen be justified in law, the army has relied on the provisions of the country’s anti terrorism legislation.

“Since the wanted persons are not serving military personnel who are subject to service law they cannot be investigated or tried under the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 LFN, 2004,” he said.

“Furthermore, under the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended the army has not been authorized to perform any duty whatsoever,” he added.

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