- Laments decision to retain service chiefs after their retirement
- Says FG obeys British court order, flout its own judicial verdict
Africa’s foremost human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) yesterday faulted the decision of President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the service of his Chief Personal Security Officer, Mr. Abdulkarim Dauda by three years.
Falana noted that the president’s directive violated Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended) and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 which according to him, was ratified by the Federal Government of Nigeria on October 2, 2002.
The senior advocate equally pointed out that the decision of the president to retain all Service Chiefs after they had attained the mandatory age of retirement did not contravene extant rules, but could undermine the country’s war on terror.
He expressed these concerns in response to THISDAY inquiries on the brewing constitutional crisis between the Nigeria Police and the Police Service Commission (PSC), a statutory body set up by Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution to be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to office in the Nigeria Police, other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police.
Dauda, a nephew of the president and a Commissioner of Police, formally joined the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Officer on January 1, 1985 and will clock the mandatory age of retirement January 1, 2020.
But in an internal memo with Ref. No: 23853/FS/FHQ/ABJ/46, Force Secretary, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali conveyed the president’s decision that granted Dauda extension of service and directed the Force’s Department of Information Technology to amend its records to reflect it.
The memo read in part: “The President, Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Chairman, Police Council, has graciously approved the extension of service of CP Abdulkarim Dauda to May 13, 2023, when he would have attained 60 years of age. Commissioner, Information Technology, amend your records please.”
By implication, Dauda would have spent a total of 39 years in service when he is up for retirement, contravening the provisions of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act, 2001 and other established rules of the public service.
Concerned about this contravention, Falana claimed that Buhari’s decision to grant his nephew extension of service was not in conformity with Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Section 42 stipulates that “a citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion “shall not, by reason only that he is such a person:-
“a) Be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions are not made subject; or
“b) Be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinions…”
The senior advocate pointed out that the executive powers “vested in the President by virtue of section 5 (1) (a) of the Constitution which may be exercised by him or through the Vice President, ministers or officers in the public service do not extend to officers whose terms of office are deemed to have expired.
“Once public officials know they cannot be fired for impunity, there is no way the country can check inter-agency rivalry, All police officers, apart from the Inspector-General of Police, are under Police Service Commission. That is a constitutional body that has been vested with powers regarding the service of police personnel.
“The president cannot usurp the power of the Police Service Commission. He cannot extend the service of any police officer. Apparently, he does not have such power. Not even the Police Service Commission can do that because it is illegal and discriminatory. Personnel of the same rank must be treated equally.
“That is the essence of the rule of law. Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution provides that nobody shall be placed at an advantage through the operation of the law as a result of your position, fortune, circumstances of birth and the rest of them.
“There is no way you can say whereas every police officer shall retire at the age of 60 or once they have put in 35 years, you cannot take out few officers and extend their tenure while others are asked to leave. It is discriminatory. It is totally alien to the Constitution as well as conditions for service of the officer involved.”
He, also, said the extension of service of a few military and police officers by the President glaringly contravened the letter and spirit of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention of 1958 which was ratified by Nigeria on October 2, 2002.
He added that Article 1 of the Convention “has prohibited any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation.
“The extension of the service of a few privileged permanent secretaries, military and police officers is also illegal by virtue of article 13 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights Act which states that every citizen shall have the right of equal access to the public service of his country in strict equality of all persons before the law,” the senior advocate noted.
He observed that the same “is applicable to service chiefs. It is worse in the case of Armed Forces, where we have service chiefs that over-stayed in office. Now, that is causing problem. Those who are qualified for that position are now saying since these are the people, who can combat terrorism, let them go ahead.
“If they are asking Nigerians to resort to prayers, it shows the service chiefs are tired. We are being told by them that the troops are not ready to fight because there is no motivation.
“We are no longer under a military junta when the tenure of military and police officers depended on the whims and caprices of the dictator. It is high time that the President was informed that the tenure of military and police officers is strictly guided by service rules made pursuant to the 1999 Constitution.”
On the rivalry between the Nigeria Police and Police Service Commission, Falana explained that inter-agency problem of this nature “simply confirms that nobody is in control of this country. We have the Nigeria Police and the Nigerian Army clashing over a common criminal.
“We had a situation in the past, where the Department of State Service (DSS) and police paraded different set of people in connection with the same crime. In this particular instance, it was reported recently that the president had waded into the crisis between the Nigeria Police and the Police Service Commission.”
The human right activist lamented that everybody was maintaining his position after the president had intervened in the inter-agency conflict between the Nigeria Police and the Police Service Commission.
He, also, deplored the Buhari administration for its flagrant disregard to the order of Nigerian courts while it chose to honour a British court order that awarded £250,000 against Nigeria in the case of Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID).
In this country, Falana noted that court orders “are disregarded; nobody borders. People are detained illegally; nobody seems to call anybody to order. Are you aware that Nigeria has paid £250,000 awarded in favour of PID? If it were the order of a Nigerian court, the federal government will just ignore.”