The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the suit challenging the legality of the three-month tenure extension President Muhammadu Buhari granted the immediate past Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu.
An Abuja based legal practitioner, Maxwell Okpara had, in his suit asked the court for an interpretation of a section of Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigerian 1999 (as amended), that relates to the appointment of Inspector General of Police
The plaintiff had in the suit prayed the court to declare the continued stay of Adamu as IGP, as illegal and unconstitutional for being a retired officer.
But before the court could deliver its judgment Adamu was unceremoniously removed from office .
Delivering judgement in the suit on Friday, the trial Judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the President who is vested with the constitutional powers to appoint a serving Police Officer as IGP, in consultation with the Police Council also has the power to extend the tenure ‘as a stop gap measure’ pending when a substantive IGP is appointed to avoid creating a vacuum.
According to the Judge, the Police Act and Constitution are clear on the appointment of IGP, but are silent on the extension of the tenure of the IGP,
He said that, “since the President has the power to appoint Inspector General of Police, in consultation with Police Commission, he has the power to extend the tenure to avoid a gap, pending the appointment of a substantial IGP.
“The Constitution and the Police Act did not forbid it”, Justice Mohammed held and added that the Plaintiff abysmally failed to prove that President Muhammadu Buhari has no power to extend the tenure of the former IGP, Adamu for three months.
“The suit of the Plaintiff failed and it is accordingly dismissed”, the court held.
Earlier, the Judge dismissed the Preliminary objection challenging the eligibility of the Plaintiff to file the legal action as well as the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
The Plaintiff, through his counsel, Ugochukwu Ezikiel told newsmen that the judgment of the trial court will be tested at the Court of Appeal.
Besides President Buhari, the former IGP Adamu, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, (SAN) and the Nigeria Police Council are joined as defendants in the suit.
While the Plaintiff urged the court to declare the continued stay of Adamu as IGP, as illegal and unconstitutional, the Defendants, prayed the court to dismiss the suit for want of merit.
Mr. E. V. Elodimuo who represented President Buhari, the AGF and the Nigeria Police Council, argued that the decision to retain Adamu as the IGP was not in breach of either the 1999 Constitution, as amended, or the Police Act.
He urged the court to uphold the preliminary objection the 1st, 3rd and 4th Defendants raised against the suit.
Specifically, President Buhari, who is the 1st Defendant, said he retained Adamu in office as the IGP, in exercise of the executive power that was conferred on him by the Constitution.
He said the Constitution empowered him to appoint a serving Police officer as the IGP, in consultation with Police Council, stressing that neither the Council nor the Police Service Commission, have not disclosed that Adamu is no longer a serving police officer.
In a five-paragraphed counter-affidavit he jointly filed with the AGF, President Buhari, described the case of Plaintiff as “frivolous, unmeritorious and undeserving of the court’s attention” and urged the court to dismiss it “with heavy cost”.
Likewise, Adamu’s lawyer, Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN), while urging the court to dismiss the suit, argued that going by section 136 of the Nigerian Police Act, his client, could remain in office as the IGP till 2024.
The IGP, who attained the maximum 35 years in service on February 1, but got a three-month extension of his tenure by President Buhari on February 3, argued that his tenure never elapsed.
He said the new Nigeria Police Act gave him a four-year tenure which would only expire in either 2023 or 2024.
According to him, his tenure will lapse in 2023 if counted from 2019 when he was appointed as the IGP, or 2024, if counted from 2020 when the new Nigeria Police Act came into force and prayed the court to dismiss the suit.
Okpara had, in his suit, contended that by virtue of section 215 of the Nigerian Constitution and section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Adamu could not validly continue to function as the IGP having retired as a member of the Nigeria Police Force as from midnight of February 1, 2021.
The plaintiff, among other things, prayed the court to restrain Adamu from exercising any form of command or control over the Nigeria Police Force.
He equally sought an order of court mandating President Buhari and the Police Council to immediately appoint a new IGP, in line with the provisions of section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act.
More so, the Plaintiff asked for, a declaration that by the combined effect of the provisions of section 215 and 216 of the 1999 constitution and section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the 2nd Defendant (Adamu), cannot lawfully continue to function as the IGP, not being a serving member of the Nigeria Police Force as from midnight of February 1, 2021, and therefore all actions taking thereafter are illegal, null and void and constitute a breach of the constitution and the Police Act”.
As well as, “Declaration that the failure of the 1st (Buhari) and the 4th (Police Council) Defendants to appoint an Inspector-General of Police as at February 1, 2021, constitutes an abdication of their duties under section 215 of the 1999 constitution and section 7 of the Police Act”.