Nigeria Police Force has said that the Nigeria law empowers it to proceed and prosecute the case it has investigated right from the Magistrate court to Supreme Court of Justice without relying or waiting for the advice of the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP.
Nigeria Police Force stated this on Wednesday at the Magistrate Court sitting in Yaba area of Lagos State when it attempted to arraign, Seun Kuti, the son of late Afrobeat singer, Fela Anikulapo-kuti, who was seen on a video slapping a policeman repeatedly even when the security personnel didn’t retaliate.
Channels Television news reporter stated that the Magistrate Court, presided over by Adeola Olatunbosun, adjourned the trial of Seun Kuti till July 3, 2023 to await the legal advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP, after the lawyer for the defendant, Femi Falana raised objection against the police application to arraign and press charges against the Afrobeat singer.
Femi Falana in his arguments before the court, insisted that Seun Kuti cannot be arraigned until there is a legal advice from the Lagos State Government Director of Public Prosecutions, DPP.
Femi Falana accused the Police of not presenting the case file of its investigation to the DPP for onward advice.
Nigeria Police Force through it counsel, Cyril Ejiofor dismissed Femi Falana claim that the police have not submitted the investigative case file to the Lagos State DPP.
Cyril Ejiofor said the Nigeria Police Force has since presented the case file of its investigation to the DPP but it’s left for the Lagos State Government to do their job, adding that, the police cannot wait for the DPP before it can prosecute a case it has investigated.
Investigating Police Officer, Lekan Ogundare, according to Channels Television, Seun Kuti committed the offence of the preferred charges against him on May 13 on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State
Accordingly, the accused was said to have driven dangerously on the bridge and deliberately blocked a moving police patrol vehicle.
Seun Kuti was also alleged to have grabbed one Inspector Mohammed Aminu, attached to the Police Training College, Ikeja, who was on official movement and in police uniform. The police also said the defendant slapped the officer several times on his face.
Police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor sought the leave of the court to arraign the singer, having preferred the charge against him but was objected by the Defence counsel.
Femi Falana who personally represented the defendant, urged the court to dismiss the application and instead accused the police of disobeying the subsisting orders of the court.
“We have a serious objection to the proposed arraignment on two solid legal grounds; that he is entitled to at least 48 hours’ notice within which to answer to the charge, by virtue of section 82 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos.
“We came here this morning only for the police to say a charge has been filed and most importantly, this charge is contemptuous of the valid and subsisting court order of May 16, that upon the completion of the investigation, the prosecution of the case is to be transferred to the state government, as police can’t investigate and prosecute the case. But the police in total defiance, ignored the order of the court.
“Also, on the 18th of May, the court adjourned the case to May 23 for the DPP’s advice. Until the court orders are complied with by the IGP, this court can’t entertain the charge from the police.
“They owe it a duty to disclose to the court why they have overruled this court on the prosecution of this case. There is no appeal against the court’s order. We urge the court to disregard the application of the police, as it is an attempt to treat the court with provocative contempt”, Femi Falana said.
Responding, the police counsel, Cyril Ejiofor urged the court to dismiss the objection saying that Section 23 of the Police Act, 2020, empowers them to prosecute cases and that the Nigeria Police Force cannot wait for the state government, having already sent the case file to them.
“We also rely on last week’s rulings of this court. We have compiled and duplicated this file to the office of the DPP. It is left for them to do their job, we cannot wait for them.
“We are empowered by law to prosecute all the way to the Supreme Court. Under Section 23 of the Police Act, we have ultimate powers to prosecute which aren’t in conflict with Sections 174 and 211 of the Nigerian Constitution, which gives the AG powers to take over any case, but we cannot wait for the state.
“The orders of last week have been vacated, and we cannot rely on them as they have no life. Nothing shall apply as a stay of proceedings, not even a pending DPP’s advice. It is unlawful for Silk to address the court when a plea hasn’t been taken. We urge the court to order the defendant to take his plea,” the police counsel said.
The magistrate, Adeola Olatunbosun, insisted on awaiting the DPP’s advice, before proceeding with the case.
Seun Kuti was in court on Wednesday for the hearing of his case after he was released on bail on Tuesday night following his detention at the State Criminal Investigative Department, Panti since May 15, 2023.
Channels Television also reported that the courtroom was packed full, and many observers applauded the court’s decision but the court frowned at the applause and threatened to send those at the gallery out.
Adding, Seun Kuti, who was in the dock throughout the proceedings, was also spotted jubilating over the development and turning to look at his wife who was seated, earning another warning from the court.