Justice Fatun Riman of a Federal High Court sitting in Awka, has declared that the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, is an illegal occupant of the office he is presently holding.
Justice Riman, therefore declared Alkali’s appointment and continued stay in office as “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
The court made the order in its judgment in a suit marked FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, filed by Okechukwu Nwafor, a tax payer.
Justice Riman further held that only an officer within the listed rank, with four (4) years in service, can be appointed as IGP, not one with less than four (4) years.
The court also ordered Alkali Baba to stop parading himself as the Inspector-General of Police.
The court ordered the President to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector General of Police who will hold office for four years.
Defendants in the suit are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Usman Alkali Baba, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Nigeria Police Council.
In the judgement delivered on May 19, which was sighted by our correspondent on Saturday, the court declared that “by a community 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 (cool of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the appointment of the 2nd Defendant (Alkali) is unlawful and invalid, the 2nd Defendant not being a person capable of fulfilling the mandatory requirement of tenure of office needed to hold the office of the 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.
More so, the court made a declaration that “the 2nd Defendant (Alkali) 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.
Also granted by Justice Riman was a declaration that the President has no power, whatsoever, to extend the condition for retirement of a Police officer as contained in Section 18 (cool of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
In the judgement, Justice Riman stated that, “I have carefully considered submission of both counsel. The Defendant’s counsel referred to his paragraph 4 to 7, where it was averred as follows: “That it is a fact that a Federal High Court Abuja Division per Hon. Justice A. K Mohammed and Hon. Justice J. O. Omotosho have determined the issue of interpretation of section 216 of the 1999 Constitution, Section 7 (3) (@) and 18 (cool of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 as it relate to remaining in office as the Inspector General of Police despite having retired as a Police Officer in the unreported cases of MAXWELL MPENA VS. THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA 23 or with suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/106/2021 and MICHAEL SAM IDOKO AND NIGERIA POLICE FORCE & ORS in suit no: FHC/ABI/CS/106/2021 respectively.
“I must observe that the said judgements are not placed for examination in the counter affidavit or filed in Court which is necessary to guide this Court on the issue canvassed before the Court on the said suits.
“Section 215 (1) (6) of the Constitution provides that the President shall appoint the Inspector-General of Police from serving members of the Nigeria Police Force on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC), which comprises of the President, Governors, Chairman of the Police Commission and the Inspector General of Police.
“See also Section 7 (3) of the Police Act, 2020. The Inspector General of Police tenure shall come to an end in February, 2020, four years from February 2021, by March 1, 2023, the 2nd Defendant was 60 years old, and two weeks later, marked 35 years he entered in the Nigeria Police Force” the court held.
Justice Riman observed that the IGP being a public servant and by virtue of the fact that he is a member of staff of the Nigeria Police Force, an authority established from the Federation by Section 214 (1) of the Constitution and in 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 birth day 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 (cool of the Police Act, on the word “Shall” is used in the provision, it is mandatory.
“Section 7 (6) of 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” the court stated.
Justice Riman observed that despite the prerogative power of the President, he is limited to the provisions of the Constitution,. adding that the IGP retirement is statutory and constitutional issue and no other law of the land can change the ground norm.
On the issue of the locus standi of the Plaintiff, the trial judge observed that locus standi is a central concept in the administration of justice and it delineates not only the jurisdiction of the Court to entertain matters brought before them but also restricts access to Courts to perform with genuine grievance.
“Thus, it is firmly established that a Plaintiff who fails to satisfy the “interest” and “injury test” will be denied the legal standing to sue to challenge any perceived act of unconstitutionality.
“It is my view however that required of locus standi is not necessary on constitutional cases as the application of the concept could impede the administration of justice.
The court noted that there is liberalization of the concept of locus standi where it involves constitutional matters, stressing that the deposition of the Plaintiff in his affidavit as a Nigerian and tax payer has not been controverted.
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