Respect Status Quo Order on 10,000 Police Recruitment, Court Urges Parties

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By Alex Enumah in Abuja

Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday urged parties to respect his order directing them to maintain status quo in the interim in the suit filed by the Police Service Commission (PSC) challenging the recruitment of 10,000 police constables by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

Justice Ekwo reiterated his earlier position on the matter shortly after the counsel to the plaintiff brought to his attention the fact that the defendants had taken further actions on the matter despite the court’s order.

The commission had dragged NPF to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Sued along the NPF is the Inspector General of Police (IG) Adamu Mohammed and the Minister of Police Affairs.

In a short ruling on October 23, the court while adjourning to enable parties exchange briefs, ordered that they should not take any further step till November 11, the next adjourned date.

However, when the matter was called on Monday, the counsel to the PSC, Barth Ogar, told Justice Ekwo that despite the court’s order restraining the police from continuing with the recruitment exercise, the police have directed the recruited officers to report to various Police Training Schools in the country.

“My Lord issues have come up in the fact that the police went ahead to carry out the recruitment exercise despite the court’s order,” he said.

Responding, Justice Ekwo held that the earlier status quo pronounced in the last hearing should be respected and adjourned to November 11 for commencement of hearing.

However, the counsel to the police, Alex Izinyon (SAN), submitted that since the recruitment exercise had reached a certain stage, the court should not have maintained the status quo order.

Unhappy with the judge’s decision, he thereafter threatened to withdraw from the case if Justice Ekwo did not avail him the opportunity to justify his stance like he did to his colleague, Ogar.

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.

The main suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019 is predicated on the grounds that by virtue of the provisions of section 153 subsection (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 IG.

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.