A Federal High Court, Abuja has discharged and acquitted 24 persons accused of falsifying documents and their identifies to gain admission into the Nigeria Police College, Maiduguri in Borno.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a ruling, held that the prosecution failed to lead credible evidence to establish its case against the defendants.
Justice Ekwo further held that not only was investigation poorly conducted in the case, the investigating police officer (IPO) did a shoddy job and the prosecution failed to present vital oral and documentary evidence.
Recalled that though the ruling was delivered on Jan. 16, its certified true copy was sighted on Sunday.
The 24 defendants were arrested and charged following a petition, dated May 22, 2020 from the Secretary to the Government of Kano State, signed by the then Permanent Secretary, Yahaya Bichi.
The defendants are Satmak Tapji Jonathan, Peter Philibus, Pwasagi Charles Power, Nadare Garba, Bamaiyi Ishaya, Geoffrey Markus Moses, Muhammad Musa Birma, Jamilu Muhammad and Mamman Dauda.
They also include Alpheus Jacob, Bulusi Inuwa, Umaru Hyeimoda Micheal, Callus James, Dahiru Mohammed, Yusuf James, Wapada Yusuf, Usman Adamu and Umar Ali.
Others are Jacob Sebastine, Usman Abubakar, Mohammed Modu, Ibrahim Yakubu, Kwada A. kijah and Philip John.
But the defendants, in a charge marked: FHC/ABJ/CR/206/2020 filed in the name of the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, made a no-case submissions.
The petitioner had claimed that Kano State was unjustly treated by the Nigeria Police College, Maiduguri, in its 2018/2019 recruitment and training exercise, during which the state’s indigenes were replaced by indigenes of other states, who upon graduation, were posted to Kano State.
The defendants were, in the 106-count charge on which they were tried, accused of submitting forged documents, impersonating other persons and giving false information about their identities to obtain admission into the college.
At the trial, the prosecution called 10 witnesses, including the IPO, who testified as the 10th prosecution witness (PW10), following which the defendants made no-case submissions.
Delivering the ruling, Justice Ekwo found that the evidence led by the prosecution revealed that it was actually some officials of the police college who manipulated the recruitment process and replaced qualified Kano indigenes with the defendants.
“Investigation over the matter was carried out and it was discovered that some serving members of the Nigeria Police Force, serving in Police College, Maiduguri assisted the suspects (defendants) to gain admission into the Nigeria Police.
“And they passed through the recruitment and were issued with complete police uniform and were posted as police officers during the exercise.
“During the investigation, the 24 suspects (defendants) were in possession of police properties which include, complete kits which were returned and registered as exhibits against the suspects,” he said.
The judge also noted that investigation revealed that the successful candidates from Kano, who were supposed to be among the trainees, were replaced by one of the admin officer and recruitment officer, DSP. Illya Kwarji.
Justice Ekwo also found that the admin/recruitment officer, on realising that the 27 successful Kano candidates were absent during the screening exercise, replaced them with the defendants, without using the real names.
“The evidence of PW10 is simple to understand. It is the admin officer, who was also the recruitment officer, that replaced people with his own interested candidates, who are these defendants before this court by replacing the names of those successful candidates from Kano without using their real names.
“This is the person who changed the names of candidates. The defendants did not, on their own, falsely impersonate any person. It was the said admin officer, who was also the recruitment officer that did everything,” he said.
He observed that the effect of cross examination on the evidence adduced in the case by the prosecution, “revealed that there is no eye witness account in this matter,” a development he said, was fatal to the prosecution’s case.
“On the whole, I have weighed the evidence of the prosecution on the statutory parameters on the point of no-case submission as follow:
*Whether there is no evidence to prove an essential element of the alleged offence?
*Whether the evidence has been so discredited as result of cross examination?
*Whether the evidence is manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal or court can safely convict on it?”
The judge said after considering all the evidence led by the prosecution, he found that there was no evidence to prove the essential elements of the alleged offences.
He then proceeded to discharge and acquitted the defendants.