The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has described as ‘illogical, unfounded, baseless and speculative’ the ruling of a Federal High Court, Abuja that President Muhammadu Buhari had the power to extend the tenure of the retired former Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu.
The group stated that the judgment lacked constitutional backing which made it only a theoretical assertion, and called for its appeal to prevent a future occurrence.
Okechukwu Nwanguma, the Executive Director, RULAAC disclosed this in a statement made available to SaharaReporters on Thursday while reacting to the ruling by Justice Ahmed Mohammed last Friday.
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had ruled Friday that Nigeria’s President can prolong the tenure of a retiring Inspector General of Police (IGP) pending the conclusion of the process for the appointment of a substantive successor.
The judge, Ahmed Mohammed, gave the decision on a suit, filed in February by a lawyer, Maxwell Opara, challenging President Muhammadu Buhari’s extension of the tenure of the immediate-past IGP, Mohammed Adamu, by three months.
The President had on February 3 granted three-month extension to Mr Adamu who had attained the maximum 35 years in service two days earlier on February 1.
Mr Opara, an Abuja-based lawyer, had in his suit, argued that by virtue of section 215 of the Nigerian Constitution and section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Mr Adamu could not validly continue to function as the IGP having retired as a police officer as from midnight of February 1, 2021.
Mohammed in his judgment, however, said, “The Police Act and the Nigerian constitution are clear on the appointment of IGP, but are silent on the extension of the tenure of the IGP.”
“Since the President has the power to appoint Inspector General of Police, in consultation with the police council, he has the power to extend the tenure as a stopgap measure, pending the appointment of a substantive. The constitution and the Police Act did not forbid it."
In his reaction, Nwanguma said, “The judgement by Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja on the suit challenging the President's extension of the tenure of a retired IGP is, in my humble view, illogical, not based on law, speculative and faulty.”
He then asked, “Can the President exercise powers not granted him by the Constitution?”
The RULAAC’s leader argued that the fact that the Constitution is silent on an issue does not empower any public official to abuse the right of others on that issue.
“If the Constitution is silent on an issue, can any court simply by assumption or inference arrogate to any public officer the right to exercise powers on such an issue?
“The judge rightly observed that both the Constitution and the Police Act grant the President powers, in consultation with the Police Council, to appoint an IGP and also admits that the same Constitution and Police Act are silent on the extension of the tenure of the IGP when his tenure expires.
“The judge then went on arbitrarily to assign to the President the additional powers not granted him by the Constitution or the Police Act to extend the tenure on the simplistic and unfounded argument that the President can extend the IGP's tenure 'as a stopgap measure', pending when the process of appointment of a new IGP is completed.
“I don't agree with this judgement. It is illogical, unfounded, baseless and speculative.
“It is always known when the tenure of an incumbent IGP will end and a proactive President should initiate the process on time, including consulting with the Police Council, and not wait until the terminal date or thereafter of the tenure to initiate the process thereby providing an excuse to illegally extend an expired tenure.
“The post of IGP has a fixed tenure and cannot be extended for someone who has retired from service. This judgement should be appealed,” the statement added.