The Federal High Court, yesterday, dismissed the suit of the Police Service Commission (PSC), challenging the power of Muhammad Adamu, Inspector-General (IGP), to recruit 10, 000 police officers.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, who delivered the judgment, held that the PSC’s suit lacked merit.
The PSC had taken the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to court over the ongoing recruitment exercise of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the motion on notice filed on September 24, with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019, the commission prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants 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.”
While the PSC is the plaintiff, the NPF, the IGP, the Nigerian Police Council, Minister of Police Affairs and the Attorney General of Police (AGF) are defendants in the case.
Justice Ekwo had earlier fixed December 4 to deliver judgment in the suit after taking arguments of counsel representing the parties.
The judge, however, said he decided to abridge the time by scheduling it for December 2 because of the number of political matters slated for the day.
Delivering judgment yesterday, Ekwo upheld the power of the NPF and the Police Council under the control of IGP Adamu to recruit constables into the NPF.
The judge, therefore, struck out the suit filed by the PSC, challenging the power of the NPF and Adamu to carry out the ongoing exercise.
He held that by the provision of Section 71 of the Police Act, it was the Nigeria Police Council under the leadership of the IGP that was empowered with the enlistment of rank and file in the force.
The judge further 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.
According to the judge, there is nothing in the documentary evidence placed before the court by the PSC to support its claims that the IGP has usurped the powers of the commission in the enlistment of rank and file into the Nigerian police.
Ekwo said that though counsel to the plaintiff had defined the word “recruitment” to mean “appointment,” he said the definition of recruitment in Chapter 1 (2) number 02, 03, 01 of the Public Service Rule 2008 edition is not in total in agreement with the legal framework of the first defendant. He said the reason was that the NPF could not be portrayed as normal civil service where the public service rule could be applied.
“It is not in controversy that the first defendant is a paramilitary body and for that reason, shares several characteristics with the military service.
“Christens the first defendant as Nigeria Police Force by Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution, it ought to be cleared that it is not meant to be a civil service,” he held.
He noted that relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution and PSC Establishment Act 2001 referred to by the plaintiff were consistent in using the word “appointment” in respect to the power of the plaintiff.
According to him, the PSC Establishment Act 2001 that has not been considered by parties in this case is what I consider as the overriding powers given to the president in Section 9.
The judge said that based on the provision, the president has the power to give directive to the PSC and that the commission holds it a duty to comply.