Speculations on moves to push for an extension of service beyond the retirement date for the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has drawn the flak of legal practitioners as confusion pervades at the Louis Edet House Force Headquarters, Abuja.
Adamu, who attains both the mandatory retirement age of 60 and 35 years in service on February 1, 2021, was expected to proceed on terminal leave on November 1, in accordance with the provisions of the amended Police Act 2020. He has, however, remained in office amidst reports of efforts to secure a presidential grant for extension of his service for a minimum period of six months.
However, strong indications have emerged on the possibility of a legal battle over plot as some legal practitioners have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to resist acting in breach of the new Police Act asserting that its provisions on retirement age for police personnel as well as appointment and tenure of the IGP was unambiguous and mandatory.
Dr. Kayode Ajulo, rights activist and managing partner of Abuja-based Castle of Law, in an interview with Daily Sun, urged Buhari to clear the prevailing uncertainty among personnel of the police by upholding the sanctity of the law.
Ajulo, former national secretary of the Labour Party and Executive Chairman of a non-governmental organisation, Egalitarian Mission Africa (EMA) warned that once there is a breach of the rule of law on the policed act, there would be stagnation and uncertainty.
“I know this and I will never canvas for an extension of tenure or service for anyone because an extension violates the law. What makes this law novel is that it was just this year the president assented to it. If he knew that he wanted to extend the tenure of the IGP, then why did he assent to it? It is like urinating on the Act itself. It will amount to urinating on an Act he graciously used a presidential order to endorse.”
In the same vein, Silas Onu, Convener of Open Bar Initiative (OBI), body of lawyers interested in good governance, rule of law and promotion of human rights in Nigeria, said Section 18(8) of the Police Act 2020 was very explicit and should be effectively implemented.
“It says every police officer shall on recruitment or appointment, serve the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier. It means you cannot serve for a day more than 35 years in the police, it also means you cannot serve for a day more than when you are 60 years old. This is the law and the operational word is shall, which makes it a mandatory provision. It is an interesting thing because it is the same provision you have in the civil service rule. We are in a constitutional democracy. When you have a law that is explicit, Mr. President or any other authority cannot go against the law, cannot override or undermine it because we are all under the law. The president is not above the law, the National Assembly is not above the law, members of the Police Council are not above the law. So I do not see any legal basis that anybody will be looking for an extension. Under the law, there is no such basis, except we want to become a lawless country, using our police force which is a law enforcement agency as a basis for lawlessness,” he said.
Former commissioner of police in the Federal Capital Territory, Lawrence Alobi, however, said there was nothing wrong if President Buhari granted an extension of service to IGP Adamu in view of his performance. He contended that the new Police Act did not strip the president of his discretionary powers on appointments.
“The Act did not in any way extinguish the discretionary powers of the President. the Act does not affect the present IG because he did not come to power under this Act,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) and Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba said he was not competent to speak on the issue.
“I am not a competent person to speak on issues relating to the tenure, succession and appointment of the IGP. The leadership of the Force is concentrating on fighting crime and delivering to Nigeria a public space that is free of crime and violence. That is what we are paying attention to,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.