President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, have stated that the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, can remain in office till 2023 or 2024.
Buhari and Malami had argued that the President is allowed by law to extend the IGP’s tenure as he wishes.
Recall that Adamu had canvassed the argument to counter a suit filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge the extension of his tenure by three months as from February 1.
In their joint reply on Monday, Buhari and the AGF adopted Adamu’s argument on the crucial issue of how long an IGP can remain in office.
Adamu had submitted that the IGP’s office and appointment is not governed by general provisions of the law which apply to the rest of the police force.
He argued that the tenure of his appointment as the Police IG would only lapse in either 2023 or 2024 depending on when counting started.
The IGP added that a special status which supersedes normal rules has been accorded to him following his appointment as the Police IG which can be regarded as a quasi-political appointment with a four-year tenure.
According to him, the 35 years in service which ended on February 1, 2021, has no effect on his appointment as the Police IG, noting that the office of the IG is only answerable to the President of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Council.
Adamu further noted that the new Nigeria Police Act gave him a four-year tenure which would only lapse in 2023 if counted from 2019 when he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari or in 2024 if counted from 2020 when the new Nigeria Police Act came into force.
IGP Adamu made the submissions in the counter-affidavit and notice of objection filed by his lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN) in response to a suit filed by a lawyer, Maxwell Opara before the Federal High Court in Abuja, challenging Adamu’s continued stay in office beyond February 1 when he clocked 35 years in service.
According to Iziyon, the four years tenure of his client stipulated under section 7(6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, would end either in 2023 or 2024.
“Therefore, if the 2nd defendant’s tenure in office is calculated from January 15, 2019 when he was appointed into the office of the Inspector General of Police, his tenure lapse in 2023.
“However, if his tenure in office is calculated from 2020 when the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 came into force. his tenure in office ends in 2024,” Mr Izinyon stated.
In their joint response to the suit, the President and Mr Malami said they totally adopted these points made by Mr Izinyon in his paragraphs 1.18 to 1.49 of his written address in opposition to Mr Opara’s suit.
Their joint response filed on their behalf by a lawyer in the AGF’s office, Maimuna Shiru, stated that they would be relying on the argument by the IGP’s lawyer in answering the question of “Whether the President is empowered to extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police.”
“My Lord on the above issue, it is our position that we will be relying and aligning with the argument canvassed by the 2nd defendant’s (IGP’s) counsel as their Issue Two in paragraphs 1.18 to 1.49 of their written address and we shall be adopting same as ours and urge this honourable court to uphold our argument and dismiss the plaintiff’s case as same is frivolous,” their written address read in part.
In the affidavit filed in support of the suit, they stated that the Nigerian Constitution conferred the President with executive power to “appoint serving police officer as the Inspector-General of Police in consultation with Police Council.”
They said neither the Nigeria Police Council or the Police Service Commission, both bodies with measures of regulatory controls over disciplinary, recruitment and appointments in the police force, “have not disclosed any contrary fact that the 2nd defendant is not a serving police officer.”
Arguing another issue in their written address, the President and the AGF argued also that the plaintiff “has failed to discharge the legal burden of proof that the 2nd defendant is not a serving police officer for the purposes of extension of his tenure in office.”
The affidavit added, “That question if the 2nd defendant is still a serving police officer is a question of fact.
“That it is a fact that the Nigeria Police Act 2020 is a subsidiary legislation passed by the National Assembly.
“That it is a fact that the appointment of an Inspector-General of Police is by the Constitution conferred on the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”