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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

JUDGMENT: Nigerian Army Cannot Declare Citizens Wanted — Federal High Court

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The federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ruled that the Nigerian Army cannot declare citizens wanted because it lacks the power to do so.

In January 2019, the Nigerian Army sent out a press release on Facebook declaring Brimah wanted for reportedly raising funds for troops and vigilantes fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria’s North-East.

Following the declaration, Brimah dragged the Nigerian Army to the Federal High Court in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/267/2019 for defamation.

“On behalf of millions of disenfranchised citizens of the state who have often been intimidated and terrorized by the Nigerian army in flaunting of the constitution by act of wilfully declaring citizens wanted and making arrests within the democratic space in the stead of the police, the formal law enforcers,” the suit stated.

In her ruling, Justice Ojukwu said the Nigerian Army had no right to declare the plaintiff wanted without making a formal report to law enforcement agencies, who enforce law and order.

“The army or defendant has no vires to declare the plaintiff wanted without due process of law.

“However, it must be stated here without equivocation that the defendant (Nigerian Army) has no right to declare the plaintiff (Dr. Perry Brimah) wanted without following the appropriate procedure. The defendant (Nigerian Army) cannot arrest the plaintiff ( Dr. Brimah) arbitrarily without making a formal report to law enforcement agency with the mandate to enforce law and order, otherwise it would transmute to self-help. The duty of the defendant is to make a formal report to the appropriate authority like the police and await the outcome,” she said.

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