Buhari Lacks Power To Elongate IGP’s Tenure-Ozekhome
By Miriam Humbe, Abuja
Fiery Constitutional law expert and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) has described the public debate around the purported tenure elongation of the Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Alkali Baba Usman as illegal and unConstitutional.
Only last week, the Police Affairs Minister, Mohammed Dingyadi, had said that the IGP would not be retiring on his March 1, 2023 birthday when he would turn 60 years.
The Minister said that the IGP’s appointment was for a single tenure of four years.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Baba as IGP in April 2021 to replace the former IGP, Mohammed Adamu who turned 60 years.
The Police Affairs Minister told Journalists that the Police Act 2020 allowed the IGP to serve a four-year tenure which retirement age could not interrupt.
Also, Section 7, (6) of the Police Act 2020, states that the person appointed to the office of the Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years.
Explaining the position of the law, Constitutional Lawyer, Mike Ozekhome said that Section 7(6) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, provides thus: “A person who is appointed as the Inspector General of Police Shall hold office for four years”.
“Section 18(8) of the same Police Act 2020 states: ‘Every Police officer “Shall” on recruitment or appointment, served in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attain the aged of 65 years, which ever one is earlier.
“The use of the word “shall” by the statute makes it impossible for the tenure of IGP to be extended by any person.”
Ozekhome said: “The same law applies exactly to the case of Alkali Baba Usman, the present IGP. Nothing has changed. He is no longer IGP in the eyes of the law.
The Constitutional Lawyer quoted some Judgements: In IBRAHIM & ORS. V. AKINRINSOLA (2010) LPELR-4144 (CA) conveys a peremptory and compulsory meaning. See National Bank of Nigeria V Alakija (1978) 9-10 SC. 59, Achineku V Ishagba (1988) 4 N.W.L.R. Pt. 89 p. 411- Ishola V Ajiboye (1994) 6 N.W.L.R. Pt.352 p.506.” Per RHODES-VIVOUR, J.C.A (P. 5, paras. F-G).
He said that he President cannot therefore administratively amend the Police Act, 2020, by extending the tenure of the IGP.
Ozekhome said this was because the Executive does not make laws but only executes laws made by the National Assembly, as provided for in section 214 (2) (a).
He said: “By the way, when last did we hear Mr President convey a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council as provided for in section 27 of the third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution?
“That council comprises of Mr President as Chairman, all the Governors of the 36 States, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission and the IGP.
“What we have seen all along is Mr president solely appointing an IGP and also solely elongating his tenure in a most unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, capricious, whimsical and arbitrary manner.
“We must learn to be followers of laws and not men, a country where we build strong institutions and not strongmen”.
Meanwhile, the Police Service Commission, PSC, had denied ever endorsing the tenure elongation of the current Inspector General of Police.
The Commission had already issued a statement to that effect, saying it would commit itself to the letters and spirit of the laws of the land.
The Commission further said that it would never support or encourage any attempt to subvert the law.