By Abdulwahab Abdulah,
Human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, SAN, yesterday challenged the legality of dispatching of military men to quell riots in Abia State, where leader of Indigenous People Of Biafra, IPOB, leader, Nnamdi Kanu resides by the Federal Government.
In a statement he issued in Lagos and made available to Vanguard, Falana therefore urged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately direct the armed troops to withdraw and return to their barracks.
Besides, Falana maintained that the Commissioner of Police in Abia state should be allowed to take over the case of Mr. Kanu in line with the provisions of the Constitution and the Police Act.
In his statement, the lawyer submitted that: “Without any fear of contradiction, the deployment of armed troops in Abia state and the house arrest of Mr. Kanu are illegal and unconstitutional on the following ground: “By virtue of section 215 (3) of the Constitution the Nigeria Police Force has been conferred with the exclusive power to maintain law and order and secure public safety and public order in the country.
“Having filed an application in the Federal High Court for the re-arrest and detention of Mr. Kanu for allegedly breaching the conditions attached to his bail the federal government ought not to have presented the trial judge with a fait accompli by resorting to self help in the circumstance.”
He argued that though the President is empowered by virtue of section 217(2) of the Constitution to deploy the armed forces for the “suppression of insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore law and order”, but that he cannot exercise the power until there is an insurrection or civil disturbance which cannot be contained by the police.
“Since there was no insurrection in Aba State which the Nigeria Police Force could not contain the deployment of armed troops by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces cannot be justified in law.” Falana added.
The lawyer argued further that, if Kanu is indicted in the investigation that is expected to be conducted by the Police, he should be charged to court as he is not above the law.
“But on no account should the army be involved in the arrest, investigation and possible prosecution of Mr. Kanu or any other civilian in the country,” he maintained.