Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court sitting at Awka, has declared the continued stay in office by the Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Baba Alkali, as illegal and unconstitutional.
The court held that President Muhammadu Buhari, lacked the powers to extend Alkali’s tenure as the IGP, beyond his statutory retirement age.
Justice Riman maintained that the IGP, being a public servant, ought to have stepped down on March 1, when he clocked the 60 years mandatory retirement age.
He held that that Alkali, as a member of staff of the Nigeria Police Force, an authority established under Section 214 (1) of the Constitution, he was bound by the Rule 229 of the Police Service Rules, PSR, which provided 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 (8) 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 added.
While faulting President Buhari’s decision to retain the IGP in office beyond his retirement age, the court, said: “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 (8) 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.
“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 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,” the court held.
Consequently, Justice Riman, issued an order, restraining the 2nd Defendant (Alkali) “from further parading himself as the IGP of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or exercising any form of command or control over the Nigeria Police Force.”
The court equally granted an order, “mandating the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to immediately convene a meeting for members of the Nigeria Police Council 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 provision of Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act.”
The judgement, delivered on May 14, a copy of which Vanguard sighted on Saturday, followed a suit marked FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, which was filed by one Okechukwu Nwafor, who told the court that he is a tax payer.
Justice Riman said he was satisfied that the plaintiff had the locus standi to approach the court to seek an interpretation of the constitution in relation to the tenure of the IGP.