A Federal High Court sitting in Awka, Anambra state has sacked Usman Alkali Baba as the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Justice Fatun Riman of the court declared that Alkali is an illegal occupant of the office he is presently holding.
The judge, therefore, declared Alkali’s appointment and continued stay in office as “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
The court made the order in its judgment in a suit marked FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, filed by Okechukwu Nwafor, a tax payer.
Justice Riman further held that only an officer within the listed rank, with four (4) years in service, can be appointed as IGP, not one with less than four (4) years.
The court also ordered Alkali Baba to stop parading himself as the Inspector-General of Police.
The court ordered the President to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector General of Police who will hold office for four years.
Defendants in the suit are the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Usman Alkali Baba, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and Nigeria Police Council.
In the judgment delivered on May 19, which was sighted on Saturday, the court declared that Alkali’s appointment violates the provisions of Sections 215 (a) and 216 (2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), as well as Sections 7 (2) and (6) and 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020. It stated that Alkali’s lack of qualification to fulfil the mandatory tenure requirements of the Inspector-General of Police position is evident.
Justice Riman further asserted that allowing Alkali to hold the office would lead to absurdity and a complete disregard for Section 7 (6) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
The court also declared that the President has no authority to extend the retirement conditions for a police officer, as outlined in Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020.
In the ruling, Justice Riman thoroughly examined the arguments presented by both counsels. He noted that judgments from the Federal High Court Abuja Division, specifically Hon. Justice A. K Mohammed and Hon. Justice J. O. Omotosho, which addressed the interpretation of relevant constitutional and legal provisions, were not submitted for examination in the counter affidavit or filed in court. Consequently, he asserted that these judgments did not provide guidance to the court.
Justice Riman highlighted that according to Section 215 (1) (6) of the Constitution, the President appoints the Inspector-General of Police based on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council (NPC), which includes the President, Governors, Chairman of the Police Commission, and the Inspector General of Police. He also referenced Section 7 (3) of the Police Act, 2020, which specifies the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police.
The court determined that the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police ends in February 2023, four years from February 2021. By March 1, 2023, Alkali had reached 60 years of age and completed 35 years of service in the Nigeria Police Force. Justice Riman concluded that Alkali, as a public servant bound by the Federal Public Rules 299 (PSR), which mandates retirement at 60 years of age or after 35 years of service, must step down on March 1, 2023.