Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has restrained the Police Service Commission (PSC) from demoting the over 1,000 police officers that were promoted between 2016 and 2018 based on the recommendations of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) pending the determination of the suit challenging the planned exercise.
The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Abdul Kafarati, who gave the Interim Injunction, also granted leave to the six policemen who filed the suit for themselves and on behalf of the affected officers.
The controversial promotion was carried out on the special recommendation of the IGP to the former PSC board which it duly approved.
The court said the motion ex-parte was granted ‘’upon reading through the affidavit in support and affidavit of urgency both sworn to by DCP Abba Kyari, attached to the Intelligence Response Team of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarter, Abuja.
In the said affidavit in reference, the depondent, Abba Kyari avers ‘that I know as of fact that the PSC has compiled the names of Police: Officers promoted between 2016 and 2018 for demotion numbering over a thousand.
‘’That I know as of fact that if the court do not restrain the defendant they will demote me and the other officers given Special promotion based on our degree of efficiency intelligence, zeal and good conduct in the performance of the duties.
‘’That I know as of fact that if the demotion of over 1000 officers promoted on the degree of their efficiency, intelligence, zeal and good conduct displayed in the performance of their duties will cause crisis that will jeopardise the peace and security of Nigeria.
He further averred “that it will be in the interest of justice to grant the plaintiff’s application.”
Besides, Justice Abdu-Kafarati held that he was also persuaded to grant the interim order after going through the, ‘’Exhibits and written address attached thereto all dated and filed at the Court Registrar, Abuja’’.
‘’It is hereby ordered that an order for leave is granted to the plaintiffs to sue for themselves and on behalf of all police officers promoted by the defendant on the special recommendation of the IGP between 2016 and 2018.
‘’That an order of interim injunction is granted restraining the defendant from demoting the plaintiffs and several other police officers duly promoted by the IGP between 2016 and 2018 pending the determination of the motion on notice filed before this court’’, Court held.
Meanwhile, further hearing in the motion on notice has been fixed for October 16, 2018.
The PSC Head of Press and Public Relations, Ikechukwu Ani, on Tuesday October 2, 2018 confirmed to journalists that the commission has set up a panel headed by a retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi (a member of the PSC Board) to review the promotions made in the police between 2016 and 2018.
Consequently, five serving police officers, Abba Kyari, Abdulraman Mohammed, Abraham Godwin, Ahmed Monday and Akadu Godwin who are 2nd to 6th applicants and a retired policer, Igbodo David, named as the 1st applicant sued the PSC for themselves and on behalf of all police officers promoted by the PSC on the special recommendation of the IGP between 2016 and 2018.
However, in a letter dated October 4, 2018, the IGP addressed to PSC Chairman, Musiliu Smith, he said the plaintiffs applied to his office for permission to sue the PSC in order for the court to determine whether the commission has the power to demote them after being duly promoted without committing any offence or follow the disciplinary procedure, in case of any.
‘’Their application was granted in line with Section 367 of the Police Act and Regulation. Apart from the order of interim injunction restraining the PSC, it is a simple principle of law that once a matter is pending before the court, none of the parties is allowed to take any further steps to destroy the Res’’.
The IGP who covered the Court interim order with the letter to the PSC chairman told him that the promotions under contentions were carried out in line with Section 149 of the Police Act and Regulation that even ranks fitness, vacancy, and knowledge of the duties, degree of efficiency, intelligence and zeal above seniority in rank.
‘’It is on this basis that officers, numbering over 1000 who have contributed to the success achieved so far in my fight against crime and criminality in Nigeria including the arrest of high profile kidnappers and terrorists were recommended for promotion and approved by a sitting board of the commission’’.
IGP Idris reminded PSC Chairman that some special promotions were equally carried out by him when he was the IGP, why then has he decided to single out his own for interrogation. This is just as he warned him that if he goes ahead to demote the police officers despite the court injunction, it will not only affect the security architecture of the nation negatively, but would lead to breakdown of law and order as well as cause the police to head for collision.
‘’It is in the light of the above that I appeal to the highly experience PSC Chairman a well-respected former IGP not to allow the police to head for collision. This can only be averted if the order of the court is respected and the court is allowed to determine whether a police officers will just be demoted without committing a disciplinary offence’’.
In an originating summons filed on their behalf by Dr Izinyon (SAN), the plaintiffs are asking the court to make an order of perpetual injunction restraining the PSC (defendant) from demoting and any police officers duly promoted by the PSC in plenary following the recommendation for their promotion by the IGP.
According to the plaintiffs, they were recommended based on the degree of their efficiency, intelligence and good conduct displayed in the performance of their duties in line with the provision of Section 149 and 165 of the Police Act and Regulation.
The plaintiffs asked the court to ‘’declare that the planned demotion of themselves and all police officers duly promoted by the defendant in plenary between 2016 and 2018 following the recommendation for their promotion by the IGP on the ground of the degree of their efficiency, intelligence and good conduct displayed in the performance of their duties in line with the provision of Section 149 and 165 of the Police Act and Regulation is null and void and utra vires their powers.
‘’A declaration that the planned demotion of the plaintiffs and all police officers duly promoted by the defendant in plenary between 2016 and 2018 following the recommendation for their promotion by the IGP on the ground of the degree of their efficiency, intelligence and good conduct displayed in the performance of their duties in line with the provision of Section 149 and 165 of the Police Act and Regulation without extending same to police officers promoted on the same condition since the inception of the PSC is discriminatory and a violation of Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended)’’.
In a 37-paragraph affidavit deposed to by DCP Abba Kyari, the head of the Intelligence Response Team of the Nigeria Police Force, he averred that his team is responsible for the investigation of high profile cases including kidnapping, armed robbery, terrorism and other heinous crimes and it works closely with other departments of the force such as the legal section, the operations and other investigative teams of the police for effective collaboration in the arrest, investigation and prosecution of offenders.
‘’That the 1st plaintiff is an AIGP and the head of the Legal section until June 1, 2018 when he retired from the force and appointed as the legal adviser to the IGP.
‘’That the 3rd to 6th plaintiffs are police officers serving in the Intelligence Response Team and the Technical Intelligence Unit of the force.
‘’That I know as of fact that I and the other Plaintiffs are beneficiaries of the Police Service Commission Promotion based on the recommendation by the Inspector-General of Police Special Promotion and I currently wear the rank and occupy the Office of a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
‘’That by virtue of the above facts, I am conversant with the facts of the case of all Police Officers numbering over a thousand persons given special promotion by the Police Service Commission including the other plaintiff’s based on the recommendation of the IGP between 2016 and 2018.
‘’That I know as of fact that the IGP is the overall Commander of the Nigeria Police Force created by virtue of Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution and he is responsible for the operations of the Force and he assess and post his officers based on efficiency.
‘’That the Defendant is a statutory body created by Section 29 of the Third Schedule of the 999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended); and the fact that the IGP is responsible for the recommendation of Police Officers for promotion to the defendant into the various ranks based on the general principles for promotion.
‘’That I know as of fact that the defendant has approved the promotions on the recommendation of the IGP on the general principles of promotion.
‘’That the promotions have been conveyed by the defendant to the affected officers through the Inspector-General of Police. See list of Officers promoted and conveyed to the Inspector-General of Police and marked as EXHIBIT NPF 1.
‘’That the IGP has decorated me and the other Police Officers of the promotions and posted us to duty posts equivalent to our ranks.
‘’That I and other officers were recommended for special promotion along with others by the IGP based on our exceptional performance and dedication to duty.
‘’That I am responsible for the arrest, investigation and prosecution of several hundreds of cases of kidnapping, Armed Robbery, Terrorism and other heinous crimes.
‘’That I know as of fact that the Inspector-General of Police has made a lot of achievements in the areas of combating Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, Terrorism related cases, Cattle Rustlings including the arrest of the notorious kidnapper Chukwudi Dumeme Onuamadike, popularly known as Evans.
‘’That on the assumption of Office of the new Board led by IGP Musiliu Smith (rtd) it started making plans to demote me and other Officers duly promoted by the last Board led by IGP Mike Okiro (rtd) without me or other promoted officers committing any disciplinary offence.
‘’That when the news of the plan to demote Police Officers got to the Inspector -General of Police, he wrote a letter to the Defendant to inform him of the basis for our Promotion and the Officers.
‘’That I know as of fact that the Defendant on the receipt of the letter from the Inspector general of Police is bent on going ahead with the planned demotion of myself and other officers duly promoted outside the exercise of their power of discipline.
‘’ That I know as of fact that the Defendant cannot demote me except I have committed a disciplinary offence.
‘’ That I know as of fact that promotions approved in Plenary by the defendant cannot be reversed without the officer committing a disciplinary offence and queried.
‘’That I know as of fact that the Defendant cannot exercise their power of discipline on an officer without giving the officer fair hearing and without the recommendation of the Inspector-General of Police.
‘’That I know as of fact that myself and the other officers promoted by the Defendant based on the recommendation of the Plaintiff on the general principles of promotion between 2016 and 2018 have not been queried for any disciplinary offence.
‘‘That I know as of fact that the IGP has not recommended me or any of the officers promoted between 2016 and 2018 for demotion in line with the disciplinary procedure laid by the Force to warrant our demotion.
‘’That I know as of fact that the PSC has promoted Police Officers before 2016 during the chairmanship of Chief Simon Okeke, Chief Parry Osayande and IGP Mike Okiro (rtd) on the recommendation of the IGP’’, Abba Kyari stated.