A Federal High Court has ordered the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, to stop parading himself as the holder of the office after declaring his appointment and continued to stay in office as unlawful and unconstitutional.
Accordingly, the court has ordered President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector General of Police who will occupy the office for a period of four years.
Justice Fatun Riman sitting in the Awka Division declared that the IGP’s continued stay in office is against the clear provisions of the Police Act, 2020.
The court in its judgment in suit number FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, filed by Okechukwu Nwafor, further held that only an officer within the listed rank, with four years in service, can be appointed as IGP, not one with less than four years.
Although the judgment was delivered on Friday May 19, 2023, a certified copy of the judgment was cited by our correspondent on May 27, 2023.
The plaintiffs in the suit dragged President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Baba, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Nigeria Police Council before the court, seeking an order to stop the IGP from further occupying office as his tenure has expired.
The reliefs sought by the plaintiff include: “A declaration that by a communal reading of the provisions of sections 215(a) and 216(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Sections 7 (2) &(6) and 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, the appointment of the 2nd Defendant is UNLAWFUL and INVALID, the 2nd Defendant not being a person capable of fulfilling the mandatory requirement of tenure of office of Inspector General of Police and/or the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) having not been complied with.
“A declaration that the 2nd Defendant is not qualified to hold the office of the Inspector General of Police for the sole reason that doing so will lead to absurdity which will amount to a complete breach and total disregard for the clear and unambiguous provision of section 7 (6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
“A declaration that the 1st Defendant has no power whatsoever to extend the condition for the retirement of a Police officer as contained in section 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020.
“An order restraining the 2nd Defendant from further parading himself as the Inspector-General of Police of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or exercising any form of command or control over the Nigeria Police Force.
“An order mandating the 1st Defendant to immediately convene a meeting for members of the 4th Defendant for the purpose of appointing a new Inspector General of Police capable of holding the office for the fixed term of four years unhindered by section 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 and also in line with the provisions of sections 7 of the Nigeria Police Act.
“Such further or other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit to make in the circumstances of this case.”
In his judgement, after listening to Counsel in the matter, Justice Riman held: “It is important to observe that the Inspector-General of police is a public servant and by virtue of the fact that he is a member of the staff of the Nigeria Police Force, an authority established from the Federation by Section 214 (1) of the Constitution and in the subject of the Federal Public Rules 299 (PSR) thereof which provides for the compulsory retirement of all grades of public service officers at the age of 60 or 35 years of service, whichever comes first.
“In the instant case, the 2nd Defendant’s (IGP’s) birthday comes first. By the said Rule, the 2nd Defendant is obliged to step down on March 1st 2023. The PSR retirement age provision, is mirrored in section 18 (8) of the Police Act, on the word ‘Shall’ is used in the provision, it is mandatory. See the case of ISHOLA V. AJIBOLA 1994 4 NWLR PT 352 para 506 by Rhodes Vivour JCA (as he then was) and also IBRAHIM & ANOR V. AKINRISOLA (2010) LEPLR 444 CA, Section 7 (6) at the Police Act provides for a four-year term or tenure for the Inspector General of Police and the word “Shall” is also used in the said provision.
“I also observe that despite the prerogative power of the President, he is limited to the provisions of the Constitution. The Inspector General of Police retirement is a statutory and constitutional issue and no other law of the land can change the ground norm.
“In my view, the requirement of locus is not necessary in constitutional cases as the application of the concept could impede the administration of justice.
“There is a liberalisation of the concept of locus standi when it involves constitutional matters. The Plaintiff is a Nigerian taxpayer, as stated in his affidavit paragraph, and this has not been disputed. I find merit in this suit. Accordingly, judgment is entered in favour of the Plaintiff in accordance with the reliefs sought.”
Baba clocked 60 on March 1, 2023.
However, Buhari in January extended his tenure, knowing fully well that he is to clock 60 years, which is the compulsory year for retirement.