Fact check: Can the police arrest an army officer?

Fact check: Can the police arrest an army officer?

The Nigerian Police is the principal law enforcement agency in Nigeria set up to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the country.

However, it is generally believed that the police is powerless against members of the armed forces who enjoyed some sort of immunity.

There has been several questions on whether the Nigeria Police can arrest an army officer, the shortest answer to this question is yes, in some cases.

The Nigerian Military, which is as old as the country itself, is the largest branch of the armed forces of Nigeria and highly revered.

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However, the immunity enjoyed by army officers applies only to cases where the officer or soldier was on duty and purported to have committed the act in the line of his duty.

For example an officer or soldier who opens fire on a mob which he is officially called upon to control and thereby causes deaths cannot be arrested by the police without central government consent.

Similarly, in areas where the Armed Forces Special Powers Act is invoked (disturbed areas), officers/soldiers are immune to arrest/prosecution without central government consent for any act purported to have been done by them in the line of their duty.

Jai from Quora explained that if an officer/soldier is arrested for a crime under the IPC he would have to be produced in front of a magistrate within 24 hours and the commanding officer of his unit (or the nearest unit) may request the court to release the individual into military custody on the undertaking that he would be made available for police investigation or court proceedings whenever required.

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Also, there is a provision under the Army Act to try army officers/soldiers for offences under the IPC. So a commanding officer whose officer/soldier is being subjected to trial for such an offence may apply to the court for permission to try the offender by court martial under the army Act. These proceedings are usually swifter than criminal court proceedings.

However, arresting an army officer is not as simple as it is made to belief on paper, the fight for power between these two security agencies had in the past led to several violent crises. In some cases, police officers are attacked and being up for attempting to arrest military officers or preveting them from gaining access to a building.

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Source: Naija.ng

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