A Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed March 22 to rule on an application filed by the suspended (Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Abba Kyari and three other suspended police officers.
They are challenging the competence of criminal charges on which they are being tried.
Justice Emeka Nwite chose the date for ruling after listening to submissions by lawyers to the prosecution and defence.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) is prosecuting Kyari and four members of the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) of the Nigeria Police Force – ACP Sunday J. Ubua, ASP Bawa James, Inspector Simon Agirgba and Inspector John Nuhu.
Kyari and others are charged with conspiracy to deal in 17.55kg of cocaine; dealing in cocaine without lawful authority; conspiracy to tamper with cocaine and unlawfully tampering with the 21.35kg of cocaine seized from Umeibe and Ezenwanne.
The former IRT boss was also charged alone with attempting to obstruct NDLEA officials in the conduct of their activities by offering them bribe.
Arguing the application yesterday, lead defence lawyer, Nureni Jimoh, SAN, prayed the court to quash the charge and discharge clients on the grounds that the defendants, who are serving police officers, were yet to be subjected to the internal disciplinary action of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC) and the Police Service Commission (PSC), as required by law.
The senior advocate contended that the failure on the part of the complainant (NDLEA) to await the outcome of the disciplinary mechanisms of the NPF in relation to his clients has rendered the charge incompetent and denied the court jurisdiction to proceed with the trial.
He argued that the utilisation of the internal disciplinary mechanisms of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC) and Police Service Commission (PSC) provided by the Constitution was a condition precedent before the defendants could be subjected to any external prosecution.
Nureni further argued that though the disciplinary action taken by the NPC and PSC had commenced earnestly and the applicants had previously answered queries issued to them by the police authorities before this charge was filed against the applicants, the charge wrongly truncated the disciplinary procedure commenced by these authorities.
He claimed that the officers were unable to stand trial before the Force Disciplinary Committee because they were arrested by the NDLEA.
“It is an administrative procedure of the police. The NDLEA only went and hijacked it,” Nureni said.
He stressed that the disciplinary power of the PSC cannot be shared with anybody or agency, including the NDLEA.
Responding, prosecuting lawyer, Joseph Sunday, opposed the application and prayed the court to dismiss it.
Sunday contended that most of the cases cited by the senior lawyer did not relate with Police Service Act, saying the instant charge against the defendant was a criminal matter.
He argued that the defendants have not, either by their application or affidavit evidence, established any condition precedent required before the filing of the charge.
“To that extent, their application failed and bereft of any factual evidence,” he said.
He urged the court to dismiss the application and proceed with the trial.