By Alex Enumah
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal yesterday set aside a judgment which validated the powers of the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, to recruit the rank of constables for the Nigeria Police Force.
The appellate court in a unanimous decision held that the IG lacked the power to recruit constables for the police force and consequently nullified the said recruitment.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) had approached the appellate court to challenge last year’s recruitment of 10,000 constables by Adamu.
However, delivering judgment in the appeal, a three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Olabisi Ige held that the power to carry out the recruitment was exclusively that of the Police Service Commission.
According to the appellate court, the word “appointment” used in the Constitution with respect to the powers conferred on the Police Service Commission included “the power of recruitment and or enlistment of recruit constables.”
Justice Ige stated that the police regulation and or provisions of the Police Act, which purportedly vested the IG the power of recruiting constables “are null and void being in conflict with the constitutional powers vested in the Police Service Commission.”
He, therefore, declared the recruitment carried out by the IG as null and void.
The appellate court subsequently granted all the prayers sought by the PSC in its amended suit filed at the Federal High Court.
The commission had in September 2019, instituted the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019 to stop the IG’s recruitment process which the NPF and the IG, had as of that time, almost concluded.
Claiming exclusive rights to recruitment of constables the PSC had prayed the lower court to nullify the process already commenced by the NPF and the IG.
But the lower court in its judgment delivered on December 2, 2019, by Justice Inyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.
He held that the law guiding the enlistment of constables into the NPF was the Nigeria Police Regulations of 1968, issued by the Nigerian president in accordance with the provisions of Section 46 of the Police Act 1967 (No 41), providing for the organisation and administration of the police force.
The judge further stated that Section 71 of the said Nigeria Police Service Regulations, 1968, gave the power to enlist constables to the Police Council and the NPF under the control of the IG, and not the PSC.
He ruled that PSC by its enabling law retained the exclusive powers to promote, demote, dismiss and discipline any police officer apart from the IG, adding that the commission could only appoint constables after the recruitment exercise carried out by the NPF.
Not satisfied, the appellant through their lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN), approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the lower court’s judgment.