Court fixes April 16 for Judgment on IGP’s tenure extension
A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Abuja has fixed April 16 to deliver judgement in the suit challenging the legality of the three-month tenure extension President Muhammadu Buhari granted to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the matter for judgment after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument yesterday.
Listed as defendants in the suit brought before the court by a constitutional lawyer, Maxwell Opara, include, President Buhari, the police chief, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Nigeria Police Council.
The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Ezekiel Ugochukwu, urged the court to declare the continued stay of Adamu as IGP as illegal and unconstitutional, but the defendants prayed the court to dismiss the suit for lacking in merit.
Lawyer to the police chief, Alex Izinyon, who maintained his position on the matter argued that the decision to retain Adamu as the police chief was not in breach of either the 1999 Constitution, as amended, or the Police Act.
The counsel to the President, I. Elodimuo, also urged the court to uphold the preliminary objection of the first, third, and fourth defendants, raised against the suit on the ground that President Buhari – the first defendant – retained Adamu in office as the IGP in exercise of the executive power conferred on him by the Constitution.
According to him, the Constitution empowers President Buhari to appoint a serving police officer as the IGP, in consultation with the police council.
The legal practitioner stressed that neither the council nor the Police Service Commission disclosed that Adamu was no longer a serving police officer.
In a five-paragraphed counter-affidavit jointly filed with the AGF, President Buhari described the case of the plaintiff as “frivolous, unmeritorious and undeserving of the court’s attention”.
He, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit “with heavy cost”.
Iziyon, who also urged the court to dismiss the suit, argued that going by Section 136 of the Nigeria Police Act, his client, could remain in office as the IGP until 2024.
Adamu, who attained the maximum 35 years in service on February 1 but got a three-month extension of his tenure by President Buhari two days later, argued that his tenure had not 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 the police chief, 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.
He, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the suit.
Opara 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 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.
Similarly, the plaintiff asked for a declaration that by the combined effect of the provisions of Sections 215 and 216 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, the second defendant (Adamu) cannot lawfully continue to function as the Inspector-General of Police, not being a serving member of the Nigeria Police Force as from midnight of February 1, 2021, and therefore all actions taking thereafter were illegal, null and void and constituted a breach of the Constitution and the Police Act.
He also sought a declaration that the failure of the first (Buhari) and fourth (Police Council) defendants to appoint an IGP as of February 1, 2021, constituted an abdication of their duties under Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution and Section 7 of the Police Act.