An Abuja-based Public Interest lawyer and Convener, Office of the Citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Pelumi Olajengbesi has faulted the Nigerian Police over reports alleging that it is set to arrest a senator, Isa Hamma Misau who it accused of deserting the force in 2010.
“A cursory perusal of the provisions of the Police Act and the1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria(as amended) provides thus respectively. Section 398 of the Nigerian Police Regulations pursuant to Section 46 of the Police Act. Desertion (1) Any junior officer who is absent without leave for 21 or more consecutive days shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence of desertion and shall be dismissed from the Force as a deserter. (2) The deserter’s name shall be struck off the Force nominal roll as from the first day of such desertion. (3) A deserter who returns and applies for reinstatement in the Force may be re-instated if the Inspector-General considers his explanation for his absence satisfactory”, he said while reacting to the issue Tuesday in Abuja
According to him; “A crystallization of the above provision provides two facts: The offence of desertion applies only to non-commissioned officers defined in Regulation 273(3) to be officers under the rank of Cadet Inspector; and, the only punishment is dismissal without honour”.
He described the decision of the police as an after-thought, saying; “Assuming without conceding that Senator Misau is a deserting officer of the Police Force, the same Police organization has at all times till now provided him with the requisite security attaché all through his campaigns till his service in the hallowed chamber of the Senate.
It is either the Police Force has an acute case of ‘selective investigative amnesia’ or it deliberately chooses to ignore this allegation till now.
“This same Police Force has before now on numerous occasions appeared before the Senator in his capacity as member of the Police Committee for various legislative oversight including the budget defense for the Police Force, submitting to his authority without raising or identifying any irregularity as to his membership of the Senate and the committee.
“It is a trite and unequivocal principle in our jurisprudence that a person can only be disqualified by reason of the constitutional qualifications thereto and nothing more. Hence, desertion cannot disqualify Senator Misau from being a Senator of the Federal Republic assuming without conceding that he deserted the Nigeria Police Force, rather he will forfeit his rights in that respect. “In furtherance of the same position with respect to his alleged non-resignation as provided for under section 66(f) of CFRN, but the immediate penalty and days count in the Police regulation has made that an unnecessary addendum”, he submitted.
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