Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, Monday, dismissed the suit brought by the Police Service Commission (PSC), challenging the power of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to recruit personnel into the force.
In a judgment, Justice Ekwo said it was the Nigerian Police Council under the supervision of the IGP that has the statutory power to recruit into the force.
The PSC had accused the IGP of usurpation of power over the recruitment and filed a suit to challenge the IGP, alleging the PSC was constitutionally empowered to carry out the recruitment exercise.
In the motion on notice filed on Sept. 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”.
The NPF, IGP, the Nigerian Police Council, Minister of Police Affairs and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) were defendants in the case.
However, Ekwo dismissed the PSC’s suit, stating that it lacked merit.
The judge held that the plaintiff was unable to prove it had the power to recruit into the force and that the court could not ascribe to the plaintiff powers it does not have.
“Consequently, I hold that it is the Police council under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police that has the power to carry out recruitment into the police force. I hereby made an order dismissing the case for lacking in merit,” Justice Ekwo held.
Ekwo said though the Police Act gave the PSC the power to promote, transfer, and discipline policemen; it does not confer on it the power to recruit except it is directed by the president of the country, otherwise the power to recruit rests with the Police Council which the IG heads.
The judge, therefore, struck out the suit filed by the PSC, to stop 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.
Justice 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 1st defendant.
He said the reason was that the NPF could not be portrayed as a normal civil service where the public service rule could be applied.
“It is not in controversy that the 1st defendant is a paramilitary body and for that reason, shares several characteristics with the military service.
He said that while Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution Christens the 1st defendant as Nigeria Police Force, “it ought to be clear that it is not meant to be a civil service”.
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” with 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 was what he considered as the overriding powers given to the president in Section 9.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier given an order for 10,000 policemen to be recruited into the force.
The suit by PSC sought the interpretation of the powers of the commission to handle recruitment, promotion, discipline and other constitutional powers of the commission.