President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, have declared support for the argument that the law permits the Inspector-General of Police (IG), Mohammed Adamu, to remain in office till 2023 or 2024.
They contended that the president is allowed by law to extend the IG’s tenure as he wishes.
Adamu 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.
Buhari and the AGF’s position on the suit, adopting in full Adamu’s earlier argument on the crucial issue of how long an IG can remain in office, is contained in their joint reply obtained by Premuim Times when the case came up for mention in court yesterday.
Adamu had attained the maximum 35 years in service on February 1, but President Buhari, through the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Mohammad Dingyadi, announced the three-month extension of Adamu’s tenure on February 4.
The plaintiff, Mr. Maxwell Opara, an Abuja-based lawyer, who had expected Adamu to vacate office on February 1, filed his suit on February 3 to challenge the tenure extension.
He sued the President, Adamu, Malami, and the Nigerian Police Council (NPC) as the 1st to the 4th defendants in the suit.
Opara contended in his suit that by virtue of section 215 of the Nigerian Constitution and Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Adamu could not validly continue to function as the IG, having retired as a police officer as from midnight of February 1, 2021.
He prayed for, among others, an order directing Adamu to stop functioning as the IG.
He asked the court to hold that the failure of Buhari and the NPC to name a new IG on February 1, when Adamu was said to have completed his tenure, amounted to abdication of duty.
He also urged the court to compel President Buhari and the NPC to immediately appoint a new IG.
As of yesterday, Adamu, has spent half of the three months extended tenure which was announced on February 4.
The IG had, through his lead counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN), argued essentially in his response filed on March 8, that his tenure never lapsed on February 1 as argued by the plaintiff.
Arguing on the issue of whether Adamu, who was appointed the IG on January 15, 2019, is prevented from staying in office beyond February 1, 2021, Izinyon contended that the tenure of the IG is not governed by the general provisions applicable to the rest of the police force.
The senior lawyer said by virtue of the relevant laws, the office of the IG is “quasi-political” and “is conferred with a special status” and “distinct from other officers of the Nigeria Police Force.”
He said the provision of “Section 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 to the effect that ‘Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier,’ is with due respect, inapplicable to the office of the Inspector General of Police in the circumstance.”
He said the IG upon appointment “is only accountable to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Council and this fact we submit makes his office a quasi-political office with tenure of four years pursuant to Section 7(6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.”
According to him, by the combined effect of Sections 215 and 216 of the Nigerian Constitution and Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Adamu “can validly function as the Inspector General of Police after midnight of February 1, 2021 in so far as he was a serving member of the Nigeria Police Force during the period of his appointment.”
He said 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,” Izinyon stated.
In their joint response to the suit, the president and Malami said they totally adopted these points made by Izinyon in his paragraphs 1.18 to 1.49 of his written address in opposition to 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 IG’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 (IG’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.”