Many people have had encounters with army officials, and on many occasions, it is not usually a pleasant one. There have also been situations where an individual is taken into the custody of the Nigerian Army, and this makes people wonder if the army has a right to arrest or detain offenders.
The Nigerian Army is a body saddled with the responsibility of defending the country from both internal and external aggression. In this article, we would examine if the Nigerian army has a right to arrest or detain civilian citizens.
Section 217 of the Nigerian Constitution established the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which includes the Nigerian Army. In that same section, the duties of the Armed Forces are clearly spelt out. These duties are stated as follows:
1. To defend Nigeria from external aggression
2. To maintain the territorial integrity of the country, and secure its borders from violation
3. To suppress insurrection and act in the aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the president.
4. To perform any other function as may be prescribed by the Act of the National Assembly.
Section 38 of the Police Act empowers the police to detect and prevent the commission of any crime, apprehend any suspected offender, preserve the Law, protect lives and properties, etc.
Although for an arrest to have been duly effected and constitutional, it must have been done by the Nigerian Police Force. However, in cases where a civilian is suspected to have been involved in acts bordering on terrorism or threats against the government, the Nigerian army can be allowed to detain such individual.
Also, where an offence was committed in the presence of an Army official, and no police officer is present, such military personnel can arrest such offender. He is also allowed to detain the offender pending when the police force takes the suspect into custody.
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