The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a preliminary objection seeking a declaration that the Inspector General of Police or the police lack competence to institute and prosecute criminal offences contained in the Advance Fee Fraud Act and other related offences.
The IGP had in suit no: FHC/ABJ/CR/121/2018, arraigned Messrs Barr. Everestus Chinedum Ugwuowo, Umar Sanda Adamu, Usman Audu and Adole Christopher Oche (first to fourth defendants) on criminal charges bordering on obtaining by false pretence, among others.
But way into the matter, the second defendants’ counsels, Kenechukwu C. Onaga and Ebuka Aneke-Agu filed a notice of preliminary objection, contending that the complainant (IGP) filed an amended charge of eleven counts against the second defendant and three others on 29/4/2019 but on a second look at the offences contained therein, the defendants claimed that the Federal High Court court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the charge while also claiming that the complainant (IGP) is incompetent to institute and prosecute the charge.
“In any case, jurisdiction to hear and determine the offences in the information has not been conferred upon the Federal High court.
“Neither the Inspector- General of Police nor the Prosecutor on his behalf is competent to institute and prosecute the offences contained in the information,” the second defendant’s lawyer maintained.
But counsel for the IGP, Simon Lough SAN, urged the Federal High Court to discountenance the submissions of the defendants and preside over the case till conclusion.
Delivering his ruling on the preliminary objection Thursday, Justice Obiora Egwuatu held that the police is empowered by law to investigate criminal matters while its power of prosecution is subject to the powers of the office of Attorney-General of the federation.
The judge added that police being an agency that works with the AGF, is not prohibited from prosecuting criminal matters.
The judge also explained that a police officer who is a lawyer or prosecutor can prosecute any case even without express approval from the AGF.
Egwuatu held that criminal matters, be it under the Advance Fee Fraud Act, are not beyond the scope of the police to prosecute or outside the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court, adding that obtaining by false pretence is a criminal allegation.
“This (preliminary objection) application is bereft of merit and is accordingly dismissed,” the judge ruled.
The case was then adjourned to February 26 for continuation of trial.
IGP Wins As Court Dismisses Application To Stop Police From Prosecuting Suspected Fraudsters, Others is first published on The Whistler Newspaper