The Nigerian Police Act permits authorities to conscript police officers for military duty. But what formalities must be observed, and what procedure will be followed in case of insubordination? These questions are front and center in Nigeria, where 23 policemen are facing departmental "orderly room" trial for refusing to don military uniforms for the fight against Boko Haram. Details here from Punch:
The officers had received counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism training in Belarus in 2014. Upon their return to the country, they were ordered to go for a military operation which they refused, saying they needed to get a signal (directive) from the Force Headquarters before they could participate in it.
They were detained on April 20, 2015 in a military facility at Gwagwalada, Abuja, for demanding explanation from the Army authorities on the procedure for their ‘conscription’ into the Army. They were subsequently released on May 15.
Sources informed our correspondent on Monday that the policemen had been directed by the Inspector, Administration, Force Headquarters, to report at the Provost’s office for trial.
The men were said to have received a text ordering them to report for the disciplinary exercise which may lead to their demotion or dismissal from the service.
The text message sent to the personnel read, “You are to report at Provost, Force Headquarters, Abuja, on June 29, 2015, for the orderly room trial. Don’t fail to come, Inspector, Administration, Provost Police, FHQ, Abuja.”
One of the affected policemen said they refused to take part in the military operation because they were asked to wear military uniforms when they were not soldiers, adding that there was no order from their superiors, “and they could easily disown us if something goes wrong.”
But a senior police officer countered his argument, saying the Constitution permits the conscription of any policeman into the military, citing Section 4 of the Police Act.
The Police Act, Cap. A19 says, “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crimes, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within and outside Nigeria, as may be required of them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.”
A Police Service Commission official, however, said it was improper for the military to ask policemen to participate in a military operation without a direct order from the Force Headquarters.The comments following the article are also worth reading.