Nigeria’s Police Service Commisson (PSC) on Monday denied backing tenure elongation for the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Usman Baba.
In the same breath, the Rule of Law Accountability and Advocacy Center (RULAAC) faulted the claim by the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, that the IG had four years tenure, insisting that his continued stay in office after March 1 was unconstitutional.
This was just as an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Maxwell Opara has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to court for extending Alkali’s tenure.
Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, recently said that the IGP would not be retiring when he turns 60 years on March 1, 2023, noting that Baba’s appointment was for a single tenure of four years.
But a statement issued in Abuja and signed by the Spokesman of the Commission, Ikechukwu Ani, the PSC said the Commission did not endorse the elongation of the IG’s tenure.
It said contrary to reports that the Commission endorsed the tenure elongation of the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba, the PSC at no time made such endorsement.
“The Commission, therefore, wishes to state that it has not endorsed any tenure elongation for the current Inspector General of Police. As a matter of fact, the Commission was never contacted on this subject at any time,” it explained.
It noted that it would always commit itself to the letters and spirit of the laws of the land and would not at any time support or encourage any attempt to subvert these laws.
“The Commission will also continue to work to ensure an effective and efficient Nigeria Police rooted in the rules and regulations governing its operations”, it said.
In a related development, RULAAC has faulted the claim by Dingyadi that the IG had four years tenure insisting that his continued stay in office was unconstitutional.
“He skipped the candidates who had up to four years in service, according to what the Police Act said, and picked this current IGP.
“This is what we have always seen with successive presidents; they would handpick whoever they want. There are cases where they have handpicked a Commissioner of Police and given them rapid promotion and then appointed them inspectors general of police, and these are usually for political motives”, he said.
Nwanguma argued that the president did not consult with the police council as demanded by the Act before appointing the IG.
He noted that it was of concern to the civil society group that the president’s reported decision to extend the tenure of the serving IGP, irrespective of what the Act says, remained illegal.
“He is due to retire either by virtue of having attained the age of retirement or having reached the limit of the number of years of service which the Police Act made reference to”, he said.
The RULAAC boss affirmed that obeying the rule of law guaranteed stability in the polity hence the president’s violation of the law was an action that should be frowned upon.
“People talk about the need for stability but the greatest guarantee for stability is the rule of law and because we know that the president has been notorious for violating the law so even if it is for the purpose of the future, we need to point out that it is not correct that the president violates the law to perform any act”, he said.
Meanwhile, an Abuja -based lawyer, Mr. Maxwell Opara has dragged Buhari to court for extending the tenure of Alkali.
Specifically, the lawyer has asked the Court of Appeal, Abuja, to restrain Buhari from allowing Alkali continue as IG from March 1, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of his motion on notice, seeking to determine whether a person can stay in office as IG after he is no longer a serving Police Officer.
According to the appellant, Alkali’s tenure as IG would expire on March 1, 2023, as such he would cease to be a serving Police Officer after then.
He therefore prayed the court to restrain the president to rescind the decision of extending the tenure of Alkali because whatever document he (Alkali) signs after March 1, would be a nullity.
The lawyer in the motion ex parte, informed the court that he had a pending appeal on whether the president has powers to allow any occupant of the office of the Inspector General of Police continue to stay in office after he is no longer a serving Police Officer.
Joined as respondents in the appeal numbered CA/A/ABJ/CS/106/2021 along with the president were Mohammed Adamu Lafia (the then IGP), the Attorney General of Police and Minister of Justice and the Nigeria Police Council.
He said, while the appeal was pending and adjourned for hearing, the president announced his intention to allow the current occupant of the office of IG to continue to occupy the office after he is no longer a serving Police Officer.
While praying for urgent hearing of the matter by the appellate court to avoid destroying the subject matter, the lawyer said, in his affidavit in support of the motion for interlocutory injunction that he filed the suit that gave rise to the appeal at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
He averred, in the affidavit that the trial court dismissed his suit in a judgment delivered on June 18, 2021.
“That the appeal has been adjourned to February 16 for hearing and while the appeal is still pending and adjourned for hearing, the 1st respondent, (Buhari), through the Minister for Police Affairs announced that he intends to allow the current IG, who will cease to be a serving Police Officer on March 2023 to continue to occupy the office of the IG.”
According to the lawyer, the crux of his matter was the legality or otherwise of allowing a non-serving Police Officer occupy the office of the IG by the respondents.
He said Buhari’s decision to allow the current IG to continue occupying the office after the March 1, 2023 is a continuous breach of the provision of the 1999 Constitution and the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
Opara called for urgent intervention of the court to ensure that the subject matter of the case is not destroyed from March 1, when the present IG would have retired from the Force.
Alex Enumah and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja