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I’ve constitutional power to extend IGP’s tenure, Buhari tells Court

Why hearing of suit against Adamu was stalled

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, told the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, that the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) gives him the power to extend the tenure of Mr. Mohammed Adamu as the Inspector General of Police (IGP). This was in response to a suit filed by an Abuja-based lawyer, Maxwell Okpara, before the court, seeking to stop Adamu from parading himself as the IGP. Okpara had, in the suit, joined the president, IGP Adamu, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Nigeria Police Council as defendants in the suit.

But President Buhari and Malami, in a counteraffidavit filed on March 15, 2021, said in the exercise of the executive power conferred on the president by the constitution, he can appoint a serving police officer as the IGP in consultation with the Police Council. The counter-affidavit deposed to by a litigation clerk in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Thomas Etah, said it is a fact that extension of the tenure of any public officer is conferred on the president and Adamu is a public officer. According to the president, the Police Council and the Police Service Commission (PSC) have not disclosed any contrary fact that Adamu is not a serving police officer.

He said: “The Nigeria Police Act 2020 is a subsidiary legislation passed by the National Assembly and the appointment of an IGP is by the constitution, conferred on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” President Buhari and Malami, who are 1st and 3rd defendants in the suit, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s suit with a heavy cost for being frivolous, unmeritorious and undeserving of the time of the court.

Meanwhile, lack of service of court processes on the Nigeria Police Council,yesterday, stalled the hearing of a suit seeking Adamu’s removal from office. At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, counsel to the plaintiff, Ezekiel Ugochukwu, asked the court for a stand-down of proceedings for 45 minutes to enable him to file his response to the counteraffidavit of the 1st and 3rd respondents.

He said the respondents, in their various counter-affidavits, raised the issue of jurisdiction of the court to entertain the matter. But, counsel to the IGP, Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), in his response, said there was no need for the plaintiff to ask for a stand-down as he was within time to file his response. However, hearing in the matter could not go on as the 4th respondent (Police Council) was not represented in court as the findings of the court showed that they were not served with hearing notice on the matter. The court later adjourned till March 30 for hearing.

The plaintiff in the suit is also asking the court to restrain Adamu from exercising any form of command over officers of the Nigeria Police Force. He argued that Adamu’s tenure has elapsed on February 1, 2021, by virtue of the Police Act. According to him, Adamu completed his tenure on February 1, 2021, after completing 35 years in office as Nigeria Police required by the Act. In the originating summons numbered FHC/ ABJ/CS/106/2021, the plaintiff wants the court to determine whether by provisions section 215, 216 and section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, Adamu can continue to function as IGP after February 1, 2021.

He also wants the court to determine whether the failure of President Buhari and the Nigeria Police Council to appoint another IGP does not constitute an abdication of their duties. A10-paragraph affidavit deposed to by the plaintiff (Maxwell Okpara) stated that though Adamu is no longer a serving police officer, but has continued to function in that capacity.

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