Hon. Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court has nullified the purported dismissal of ASP Nweke Emeka from service by the Minister of Police Affairs and the IGP; ordered his reinstatement without any loss in rank, with payment of all his arrears, outstanding salaries, entitlements, and fringe benefits from the year 2020 till date within 30 days.
The Court held that Nweke's indictment and disciplinary actions against him evinced that he had served the appropriate punishment even above the prescribed punishment and his subsequent dismissal for the same offense comes within the realm of double jeopardy which our legal and judicial system abhors and cannot stand.
Justice Oyewumi affirmed that the statutory duty of discipline of police officers vested in the Police Service Commission is not delegable, that the Minister of Police Affairs who approved the dismissal of Emeka had no power to so do.
From facts, the claimant- ASP Nweke Emeka had submitted that the Commandant of the Police Academy lacked the disciplinary powers over him the moment he became a commissioned officer, and the processes leading to his dismissal were not done in accordance with the relevant laws.
In defense, the Minister of Police Affairs averred that no action relating to the dismissal of Emeka was carried out by his office and in particular no signal was sent to the Command for his dismissal, that the appointment, promotion, and discipline of the Police Officers is the responsibility of the Police Service Commission and Emeka has not shown any document to show that he has been dismissed.
The Learned Counsel to the Minister filed a Preliminary Objection challenging the jurisdiction of the Court on the grounds that the only evidence suggested by Emeka connecting the Minister of Police Affairs to the case is hearsay evidence and no reasonable cause of action the Minister.
Counsel further averred that the Police Regulations provides for the procedure for termination of the appointment of the category to which the Emeka belonged, and urged the Court to dismiss the case.
Emeka's Counsel, T.P. Tochukwu Esq submitted that the defendants have not denied the dismissal of his client which was communicated by a wireless message and a press release and which documents the defendants were given the notice to produce which they failed to do, urged the court admit his claim.
Learned Counsel also submitted that dismissing his client after he has served the requisite punishment for the misdemeanor amounts to double jeopardy, urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought in the interest of justice.
Delivering the Judgment after careful analysis of the submission of both parties, the presiding Judge, Justice Oyebiola Oyewumi affirmed that the Emeka’s case has disclosed a reasonable cause of action against the Minister of Police Affairs, and held that Police Service Commission and the IGP will be bound by the decision of the Court irrespective of their absence at trial and their non-appearance does not mean automatic victory for the claimant.
Justice Oyewumi held that the provision of Regulation 67 of the Police Regulations which vests the power of termination of the service of an officer on probation on the Police Council is to the extent its consistency null and void that the provision of the Constitution of the Third Schedule of the Constitution prevails.
“There is no evidence before this Court that Claimant was a repeat offender and the pleadings of Claimant that he was awarded punishment in excess of the prescribed punishment has not been specifically traversed or challenged by the Minister of Police Affairs.
“In exercise of this power and in order to do substantial justice in this matter, I will consider the contents of the clearer copy annexed to the written statement on oath. It is clear from a perusal of the said clearer version that it was the Minister of Police Affairs that approved the dismissal of Claimant and other persons from the Police Force.
"The statutory duty of discipline of police officers vested in the Police Service Commission is not delegable as the Constitution did not provide that same should be delegated. This then means that the Minister of Police Affairs who was shown to have approved the dismissal of Claimant had no power to so do not even by the Constitution.” Justice Oyewumi ruled.