With less than 38 hours to the presidential and governorship inaugurations, Nigeria’s Police Inspector-General, Mr Usman Baba Alkali, has been relieved of his post.
A Federal High Court sitting in Akwa, Anambra capital which gave the sacking order, also directed Alkali to stop parading himself as the IGP, saying he is an illegal occupant of the office.
Justice Fatun Riman declared that Alkali’s appointment and continued stay in office is illegal and unconstitutional.
Persecondnews reports that the judgment followed a suit by Mr Okechukwu Nwafor, a taxpayer, in the suit no. FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023.
Riman also said only an officer of the indicated rank with four (4) years of service, not one with less than four (4) years, can be appointed as IGP
He ordered the outgoing President to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector General of Police who will hold office for four years.
Defendants in the suit are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Usman Alkali Baba, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Nigeria Police Council.
The court declared: “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.t
“The 2nd Defendant (Alkali) 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 IGP, being a public servant and by virtue of the fact that he is a member of staff of the Nigeria Police Force, an authority established from the Federation by Section 214 (1) of the Constitution and in subject of the Federal Public Rules 299 (PSR) thereof which provides 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 birthday 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.
While observing that despite the prerogative power of the President, he said the President is limited by the provisions of the Constitution, adding that the IGP retirement is statutory and constitutional issue and no other law of the land can change the ground norm.
On the issue of the locus standi of the Plaintiff, the judge observed that locus standi is a central concept in the administration of justice and it delineates not only the jurisdiction of the court to entertain matters brought before them but also restricts access to courts to perform with genuine grievance.
“Thus, it is firmly established that a Plaintiff who fails to satisfy the “interest” and “injury test” will be denied the legal standing to sue to challenge any perceived act of unconstitutionality.
“It is my view, however, that required of locus standi is not necessary on constitutional cases as the application of the concept could impede the administration of justice.
*There is the liberalization of the concept of locus standi where it involves constitutional matters; the deposition of the Plaintiff in his affidavit as a Nigerian and tax payer has not been controverted,” the judge said.