The Police Service Commission on Monday denied supporting tenure elongation for the current Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba as reported by an online media organization
This was contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja by the spokesperson of the Commission, Ikechukwu Ani.
According to the statement, “the attention of the Police Service Commission has been drawn to an online publication in Supremenewsng.com where the Commission was said to have endorsed the tenure elongation of the current Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
“The online publication in a supposed interview with AIG Lawal Bawa retired, Honourable Commissioner in the Commission representing the Police, stated that the PSC Commissioner confirmed that the Commission “is not against the extension of the tenure of the Inspector General of Police.”
It went further to quote the Commissioner that “If the IGP feels that it will affect effective monitoring of the elections, let him write to the President for their extension, We (PSC) have no objection.”
The statement explained further that “the Honourable Commissioner has since denied making such a statement, stressing that he was obviously misquoted.
It added that “according to him, he told the online publication that it was the prerogative of Mr. President to decide.”
It therefore declared that it has not endorsed any tenure elongation for the current Inspector General of Police, insisting that “as a matter of fact the Commission was never contacted on this subject at any time.”
According to the statement, while noting that it would always commit itself to the letters and spirit of the laws of the land and would not at any time support or encourage any attempt to subvert these laws the Commission appealed to the media to avoid unnecessary sensationalism in an attempt to attract huge readership.
It assured that the Commission would also continue to work to ensure an effective and efficient Nigeria Police rooted in the rules and regulations governing its operations.
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Maxwell Opara, on Monday, approached the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal with a motion to challenge the powers of President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba.
In an ex-parte motion he filed before the appellate court, Opara, sought an order to restrain President Buhari from retaining the IGP in office beyond March 1, when he would have clocked the mandatory retirement age.
He wants the court to issue the restraining order, pending the hearing and conclusion of an appeal he earlier filed to determine whether a person that is no longer a Serving Police Officer, could be allowed to stay in office as an IGP.
The appellant argued that by March 1, the IGP would cease to be a serving police officer and would therefore lack the powers to superintend over the Nigeria Police Force.
Opara had in 2021 gone to court after President Buhari extended the tenure of the immediate past IGP, Mohammed Adamu by three months after he had reached the mandatory retirement age, having served in the Police for 35 years.
While insisting that the President’s action was illegal, Opara, among other things, contended that by virtue of Section 215 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as well as Section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Adamu could not continue to function as the IGP after his retirement.
In his suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/106/2021, the plaintiff urged the court to declare as illegal all actions Adamu took as head of the NPF after February 1, 2021, which was the day be clocked the mandatory retirement age.
He further prayed the court to determine whether the failure of President Buhari and the Nigeria Police Council to appoint another IGP, after the position became vacant by virtue of Adamu’s retirement, did not constitute an abdication of their duties.
Aside from the then IGP, other defendants in the suit were President Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, as well as the Nigeria Police Council.
Opara’s suit was still pending in court when President Buhari, on April 4, 2021, appointed Baba to replace Adamu as the IGP.
Nonetheless, the court, in a judgement it delivered on June 18, 2021, dismissed the suit on the premise that both the 1999 Constitution, as amended, and the Police Act, 2020, were silent on whether or not the President could extend the tenure of a retired IGP.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed who gave the judgement held that since the Constitution and the Police Act empowered the President to appoint an IGP, he could also by implication, extend the tenure of a retiring IGP before concluding the required consultation with the Police Council and other processes required for the appointment of a substantive replacement.
Dissatisfied with the verdict, Opara took the matter before the Court of Appeal which has already fixed February 16 to hear his appeal numbered: CA/A/ABJ/CS/106/2021.
Following the planned extension of the tenure of the retiring incumbent IGP, Baba, to allow him to conclude his four-year tenure, Opara re-approached the appellate court to halt the action.
In his fresh motion before the appellate court, he maintained that by March 1, 2023, the tenure of the present IGP would expire and he would cease to be a serving Police Officer after then.
Opara, therefore, prayed the appellate court to compel President Buhari to rescind the decision of extending Baba’s tenure as the IGP, as whatever document he signs after March 1 would be a nullity.
He argued that allowing the President to illegally extend the IGP’s tenure beyond March 1, would destroy the subject matter of his appeal.
The appellant said the defendants would continue to act in breach of the Constitution and the Nigeria Police Act, except the court intervened.