Court Declares Inspector-General of Police’s Appointment and Stay in Office Illegal

By Ahmed Ajikobi

Justice Fatun Riman of the Federal High Court in Awka has declared the current Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali, an unlawful occupant of his office.
 The court stated that Alkali’s appointment and continued stay in the position are unconstitutional and unlawful.
This judgment resulted from a lawsuit filed by Okechukwu Nwafor, a taxpayer, and was marked as FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023.
Justice Riman emphasised that only an officer within the prescribed rank, with a minimum of four years of service, can be appointed as the Inspector-General of Police. Alkali, having served less than four years, was found ineligible for the position.
Furthermore, the court ordered Alkali Baba to cease presenting himself as the Inspector-General of Police. It also directed the President to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector-General, who will hold the office for a four-year term.
The defendants, in this case, include the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Usman Alkali Baba, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the Nigeria Police Council.
In the judgment delivered on May 19, which was made available to our correspondent on Saturday, the court declared that Alkali’s appointment violates the provisions of Sections 215 (a) and 216 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), as well as Sections 7 (2) and (6) and 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020. It stated that Alkali’s lack of qualification to fulfil the mandatory tenure requirements of the Inspector-General of Police position is evident.
Justice Riman further asserted that allowing Alkali to hold the office would lead to absurdity and a complete disregard for Section 7 (6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
The court also declared that the President has no authority to extend the retirement conditions for a police officer, as outlined in Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
In his ruling, Justice Riman thoroughly examined the arguments presented by both counsels. He noted that judgments from the Federal High Court Abuja Division, specifically Hon. Justice A. K Mohammed and Hon. Justice J. O. Omotosho, which addressed the interpretation of relevant constitutional and legal provisions, were not submitted for examination in the counter affidavit or filed in court. Consequently, he asserted that these judgments did not provide guidance to the court.
Justice Riman highlighted that according to Section 215 (1) (6) of the Constitution, the President appoints the Inspector-General of Police based on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC), which includes the President, Governors, Chairman of the Police Commission, and the Inspector General of Police. He also referenced Section 7 (3) of the Police Act, 2020, which specifies the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police.
The court determined that the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police ends in February 2023, four years from February 2021. By March 1, 2023, Alkali had reached 60 years of age and completed 35 years of service in the Nigeria Police Force. Justice Riman concluded that Alkali, as a public servant bound by the Federal Public Rules 299 (PSR), which mandates retirement at 60 years of age or after 35 years of service, must step down on March 1, 2023.
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