By Alex Enumah in Abuja
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday ordered parties in the suit challenging the recruitment of 10,000 police constables to maintain the status quo in the interim.
Justice Ekwo held that the order is necessary since parties have submitted themselves to court for settlement of the matter.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) had dragged the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The defendants in the suit filed by the former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Kanu Agabi (SAN), include the Inspector General of Police (IG) Adamu Mohammed and the Minister of Police Affairs.
In the motion on notice filed on September 24 and brought pursuant to order 28 rule 1, the commission is praying the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants/respondents, their officers and representatives including anybody or person acting on their behalf from appointing, recruiting or attempting to appoint or recruit by any means whatsoever any person into any office by the NPF pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
However, when the matter came up Wednesday, the counsel to the defendants, Alex Izinyon (SAN), informed the court of an application seeking to join the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice as a party in the suit.
However, the counsel to the plaintiff did not object to the joining of the AGF.
The court accordingly granted the request and joined the AGF as a party, adding that the joining of the AGF would give expeditious disposition to the suit.
Justice Ekwo also ordered the plaintiff to amend, file and serve the amended process on all the defendants within four days, while the respondents are to also reply within four days and adjourned the matter to November 4, for mention.
The judge before adjourning the matter, urged the counsel as senior members of the bar to, “stay within bound until the matter is determined”.
“You have submitted yourself to court, abide by the rule of the law,” the court held.
Efforts by the counsel to the respondents, Izinyon, to prevail on the court that the police had already concluded the recruitment and that the list of successful candidates have been released was rebuffed by the court.
“Parties should not go beyond what it is now,” the court held.
The main suit with number : FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019 is predicated on the grounds that by virtue of the provisions of section 153 sub section (1) (m), section 153 subsection (2) and section 215 subsection (1)[b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Paragraph 30 Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution as well as Sections 6 and 24 of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act, the plaintiff/applicant is the sole statutory body vested with the exclusive powers to appoint, promote, dismiss and discipline persons holding offices in the 1st defendant except the office of the Inspector General of Police.
The plaintiff also submitted that none of the respondents is authorised by law to play any role in the appointment, promotion, dismissal or exercise of disciplinary measures over persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force.
While stating that the NPF are presently trying to appoint by means of an advertised recruitment of 10,000 persons into the force in flagrant usurpation of the functions and powers of the PSC, the commission said: “Unless restrained by an order of this court, the respondents appointments/recruitments is capable of foisting a fiat accompli on the judgment of this honourable court in this matter.”
The plaintiff is therefore asking the court to declare that by virtue of section 1 subsection 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), any piece of legislation or instrument relied upon by the defendants including but not limited to the Police Act and the Police Regulations in exercising or purporting to exercise the powers to appoint, promote, dismiss or discipline persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force, being inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution particularly section 153 subsection (1)(m), section 53 subsection (2) and section 215(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and paragraph 30 Part of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, is invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
A declaration that any act or attempt by the defendants in appointing, recruiting and/or shortlisting for appointment, any person aspiring to hold any office in the Nigeria Police Force except the office of the Inspector General of Police amounts to unlawful and unjustified usurpation of the constitutional and statutory functions and powers of the plaintiff and accordingly null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“An order nullifying any act or attempt by the defendants whether acting jointly or severally in appointing or purporting to appoint any person into the 1st defendant whether by means of enlistment shortlisting, recognition, recruitment or in any other manner howsoever, such act or attempt being ultra vires the functions and powers of the defendants.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants, jointly and severally, by themselves or through their officers, agents or representatives or through any other body or appointee of the Federal Government of Nigeria from further exercising or purporting to exercise the powers to appoint, promote, dismiss or in any manner whatsoever exercise disciplinary control over any person holding or aspiring to hold any office in the Nigeria Police Force other than the Inspector General of Police.