Tuesday, 22 May 2018

IMPERSONATION AND THE WEARING OF MLILTARY UNIFORMS

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Reports of persons who have been beaten up by members of the military abound in our Newspapers and News headlines. Civilians have been assaulted and battered for several reasons; some of which include impersonation of members of the Armed Forces, wearing of the uniform of members of the Armed Forces, etc. It is therefore important to look into the Law and ascertain what the law says about Impersonation of members of the Military and the wearing of military uniforms.

The Criminal Code Act states that any person who is not serving in any of the Armed Forces of Nigeria who wears the uniform or any part of the uniform of any of the Forces (Army, Navy or Air-force), or any dress having the appearance or bearing any of the regimental or other distinctive marks of such uniform is guilty of an offence of unlawfully wearing the uniform of the Armed Forces. The offence is punishable with imprisonment for one month.[1]

As was stated above, wearing any dress which has the appearance of the uniform of any of the forces which makes up the Armed Forces is an offence.

The punishment is imprisonment for one month if the only offence committed is just unlawfully wearing the uniform or a part of the uniform of the Armed Forces. Where however, the uniform or a part of the uniform of the Armed Forces, or any clothe resembling any part of the uniform of a person serving in the Armed Forces is worn with intent that he may be taken as a member of the Armed Forces, then he is liable to imprisonment for one year.[2]

The Law also prohibits persons who are not members of the Police Force from wearing in whole or in part, the uniform or any clothe resembling the uniform of a police officer with intent that he may be taken as a police officer. The offence of impersonating a police officer is also punishable with imprisonment for one year.[3]

The law does not vest the police or members of the Armed Forces with authority to order persons wearing such uniforms illegally to remove them, neither does the law empower them to punish, assault or batter civilians who unlawfully wear police or military uniforms. The proper thing to be done is to lodge a formal complaint with the police, and the police would charge a person whom it believes to have infracted the law to court, and the courts would impose the prescribed punishment if it is satisfied that an offence has been committed.

Beating up and humiliating persons who were caught impersonating police officers or members of the Armed Forces, or for unlawfully wearing their uniform is wrong. It amounts to a breach of the fundamental rights of such persons and victims of such brutality have a remedy in law.
 

[1] See Section 110 of the Criminal Code Act.
[2] See Section 109 of the Criminal Code Act.
[3] see Section 109 of the Criminal Code Act.

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