BUHARI ABANDONS HIS ARGUMENTS IN COURT AS HE APPOINTS A NEW IGP: REASONS THE COURT SHOULD PROCEED

According to Vanguard, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) Usman Alkali Baba as the Acting Inspector-General of Police (IGP). The appointment is to take immediate effect.

Recall that Adamu’s tenure expired on 1 February 2021 when he clocked 35 years in service. But on 4 February 2021, the President decided to extend his tenure by another 3 months, to terminate in May 2021.

The appointment of Alkali Baba came while the 3 months extension grace given to Adamu was yet to expire.

It was reported that sometime in February 2021, Maxwell Opara, an Abuja-based lawyer, commenced an action against the President, the former IGP, Mr. Adamu, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Nigeria Police Council (NPC) regarding the tenure elongation of Adamu.

In that suit, President Buhari contends that the law permits Adamu to remain in office till 2023 or 2024, thereby justifying the extention of tenure.

It has been submitted elsewhere that contrary to the position of the President, it appears he had flung the Constitution and the Police Act into the bin by extending the tenure of Mr. Adamu. Read details here.

Implication of the appointment of Alkali Baba

The appointment of Usman Alkali Baba as the Acting IGP means that Adamu ceases to hold office as the IGP with immediate effect. This also prematurely puts an end to the extension of his tenure.

Furthermore, it seems Buhari has abandoned his arguments in Court. The appointment of Alkali Baba seems to be a further admission or confirmation that the tenure of Adamu had indeed expired. The initial confirmation came by the extention itself. This is because, if the law permits Adamu to remain in Office as argued by the President, there would be no need for the extension in the first place. 

Nevertheless, it is doubtful if the pending suit against the tenure elongation of Adamu would continue till final determination. The Court may prefer to take the position that since Adamu is no longer the IGP, the suit has become academic. The law forbids the courts from treating academic issues or issues which appear to be based on hypothesis. Only live issues are to be heard and determined.

However, it is submitted that it would be in the best interest of the nation for the Court to finally hear and determine the case. It is a fact that the President extended the tenure of the former IGP after his tenure had expired. Was he legally permitted to do that? We may never know until the Court tells us. It is reasonably believed that the action was unconstitutional. The President believes otherwise. 

The Court needs to make a pronouncement so as to guide future cases and ensure some level of certainty. An interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Police Act will help to improve our understanding of the provisions and eliminate needless arguments and conjecturing. Also, any loophole will stand closed by such decision. 

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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