The Constitution and other laws empower the police to combat oil pipeline vandalism and illegal dealing in petroleum products, etc., a Lagos lawyer Barr Dotun Ajulo has said
Ajulo said the notion that it is only the Nigerian Security Civil Defence Corp (NSCDC) that can prosecute pipeline vandals is not consistent and therefore misconception of the law.
He was responding to a recent comment by NSCDC Commandant-General, Dr Ahmed Audi, on the matter.
Audi, last Saturday, reportedly told The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the NSCDC is the lead agency in the area of critical national assets and infrastructure, thus he expects that when other agencies make an arrest in the area of pipeline vandalism, they should hand the suspects over to his agency for prosecution.
Audi added that “if you read, if you check the document, Petroleum Sabotage Act, it is stated clearly that it is Civil Defence and EFCC that has the power to prosecute oil thieves and it is very clear there and perhaps sometimes we go for advice too because of their experience,”
But the lawyer noted that the Nigeria Police being an establishment of the Constitution, “which is superior to the Petroleum Sabotage Act empowers the police to combat all offenses including illegal dealing in Petroleum products “.
He added that the Miscellaneous Offences Act is a law enacted to combat illegal dealings in Petroleum product, etc in Nigeria in 1984 during which neither the EFCC nor the NSCDC were established. Additionally, a more recent amendment of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 particularly Section 4(d) further buttresses the fact that the police has powers to enforce all laws and regulations without prejudice to the enabling Acts of other security agencies.
As at the time Miscellaneous Offences Act was enacted, Nigeria Police was the only law enforcement agency that prosecute such offences in Nigeria and subsequently other law enforcement agencies like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and NSCDC were created which can also prosecute offenders within the said laws.
The lawyer further stated that reference by Audi to the Petroleum Sabotage Act that ‘’ it is Civil Defence and EFCC that has the power to prosecute oil thieves’’, is misconception of law in that, as at the time the law was enacted in 1975 neither the EFCC nor the NSCDC were in existence.