Lawyers, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs), have described President Muhammadu Buhari’s extension of the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, as both illegal and unconstitutional.
The lawyers: Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), Mike Ozekhome (SAN), and Okechukwu Nwanguma, who is the Executive Director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre said Mohammed ceased to be a policeman from February 2, after attaining 35 years in service on February 1, 2021.
For instance, Adegboruwa quoted Section 215 (1)(a) and Section 216(2) of the 1999 Constitution to state that Buhari lacks the power to extend the tenure of service of an IGP.
In a statement made available to SaharaReporters, he said, “When the tenure of a serving IGP expires on the grounds of completing the mandatory 35 years of service, he cannot be asked to continue in office beyond his mandatory tenure.
“An IGP who has served the mandatory years of service ceases to be a member of the Nigeria Police Force from the date of his completion of his service. In this case, Mr Adamu ceases to be a member of the NPF from February 2, 2021.
“Under and by virtue of section 215(1)(a) of the Constitution and section 7(3) of the Police Act, 2020, only a serving member of the Nigeria Police Force can be appointed as IGP. Mr Adamu having completed his mandatory years of service in February 2, 2021, he cannot be appointed as IGP, from outside the force.
“The President lacks the power to reabsorb a retired police officer back into the NPF through a purported tenure extension, which is not contemplated by law.
“The President cannot appoint an IGP or extend the tenure of a retired IGP without the advice of the Nigeria Police Council, which in this case has not met to consider, let alone approve such tenure extension.”
Adegboruwa noted that the Federal Republic of Nigeria therefore presently “has no IGP properly so recognised by law.”
Buhari had earlier extended the tenure of the IGP, Adamu, for three months.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, disclosed this on Thursday while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that the decision of the President to extend the IGP’s tenure for another three months was to give time for proper selection of the new helmsman.
Similarly, Ozekhome said it was wrong for the President to extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police.
Ozekhome described the President’s action as, “unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, questionable, arbitrary, whimsical, capricious”.
In an interview with Channels Television on Thursday, monitored by SaharaReporters, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria said, “The President was wrong to have purportedly extended the tenure of office of Mr Adamu. That he was going to retire on the 1st of February was not a surprise, everybody knows that he was born in 1961, everybody knows that he joined the Nigeria Police Force 35 years ago.”
“Why do we always wait till the last moment to begin to adopt the fire brigade approach and then do the things that are unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful, questionable, arbitrary, whimsical, capricious as the present act of Mr President has done. Don’t Mr President’s handlers know that they are embarrassing Mr President and Nigeria? He asked.
“We have to look at Section 7, Sub-section 6 of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, what does it say? In very emphatic, categorical words, it says that the Inspector General of Police shall serve for four years. Has Adamu served for four years? No. Would he therefore continue in office? No.
“Why? Section 18, Sub-section 8 of the same Nigeria Police Act 2020. It makes it clear, unambiguously that the Inspector General of Police shall retire from office when he would have served for 35 years or he has attained the age of 65 years.
“Granted that Adamu, born in 1961 being the 20th Inspector General of Police has not attained the age of 65 but he has served 35 years and he ended that 35 years on the 1st of February, 2021.”
Nwanguma also condemned the extension of the appointment of the IGP.
Nwanguma disclosed this to SaharaReporters on Thursday while reacting to how President Buhari elongated the tenure of the IGP, who was supposed to have retired on Monday.
He urged President Buhari to “learn to lead by example and not engage in any action that violates the constitution or other laws he's sworn to defend”.
He continued, “It is not good for our democracy for the President to violate the law or exercise powers not granted him by law.
“The retirement date for IGP Adamu was known long before the day came when he attained 35 years in service. It didn't come suddenly. The President ought to have convened the Police Council to discuss the appointment of a new IGP to take over from Adamu.
“For the President to now turn around to claim that he needed time to go through the process of selecting a new IGP is preposterous. It's a pretext to evade responsibility. It further underscores his contempt for public opinion.
“The public service rule is clear on the tenure of service of any public servant. The Police Act which the President signed in 2020 grants the IGP a one term tenure of four years. Neither of the laws grants the President the power to extend the tenure of a retired IGP. The President acted illegally and unconstitutionally. He must reverse himself.”
He said the best President could have done under the circumstance was to “direct the retired IGP Adamu to hand over to the most senior DIG pending when the Police Council would wake up from its slumber and discharge its constitutional duties. And it's not late for the President to reverse himself on this clear illegality”.
According to the legal professionals, the President’s action runs contrary to the provisions of the Police Act 2020, which in Section 7 (6) fixes a single term of four years without an option of extension of tenure for the holder of the office of the Inspector General of Police.
“A person appointed to the office of the Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years,” it read.
Section 18 (8) of the Act signed by the President on September 15, 2020 also read, “Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the police force for 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.”