The controversy over the recruitment of 10,000 new policemen has been lad to rest, perhaps temporarily, as the Federal High Court, Abuja, ruled that the Inspector-General of Police has the power to recruit police officers as opposed to the claim of the Police Service Commission.
The commission had taken the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, to court over the ongoing recruitment exercise of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. But Justice Inyang Ekwo has held that the PSC’s suit lacks merit.
“It is a travesty of justice and lacks any merit. We are going to test it up to the Supreme Court, if necessary,” an interested party to the suit said last night.
In the motion on notice filed on September 24, with suit number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019, the commission prayed the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from ‘‘appointing, recruiting or attempting to appoint or recruit by any means whatsoever any person into any office by the NPF pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.”
While the PSC is the plaintiff, the NPF, IGP, Nigerian Police Council, Minister of Police Affairs and the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, are defendants in the case.
Delivering judgment, Justice Ekwo upheld the power of the NPF and the Police Council under the control of the IGP to recruit constables into the NPF.
He said by the provisions of Section 71 of the Police Act, it is the Nigeria Police Council under the leadership of the IGP that is empowered with the enlistment of rank and file in the NPF.
The judge held that the law guiding the enlistment of constables into the NPF is the Nigeria Police Regulations of 1968, issued by the president in accordance with the provisions of Section 46 of the Police Act 1967 (No 41), providing for the organisation and administration of the police force.
There is nothing in the documentary evidence placed before the court by PSC to support its claims that the IGP has usurped its powers in the enlistment of rank and file into the police, he ruled.
Justice Ekwo said though counsel to the plaintiff had defined the word “recruitment” to mean “appointment,” he said the definition of recruitment in Chapter 1 (2) number 02, 03, 01 of the Public Service Rule 2008 edition is not in total in agreement with the legal framework of the first defendant.
“It is not in controversy that the first defendant is a paramilitary body and for that reason, shares several characteristics with the military service.
“By Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution, it ought to be cleared that the Nigeria Police Force is not meant to be a civil service,” he held.
He noted that relevant provisions of the 1999 Constitution and PSC Establishment Act 2001 referred to by the plaintiff were consistent in using the word “appointment” in respect to the power of the plaintiff.
According to him, the PSC Establishment Act 2001 that has not been considered by parties in this case is what I consider as the overriding powers given to the president in Section 9.
The judge said that based on the provision, the president has the power to give directive to the PSC and that the commission holds it a duty to comply.
According to him, this means that the plaintiff cannot question the president’s directive with regard to the performance of its functions. “Therefore, it is the IGP that controls the process of enlistment of recruit constables into the NPF,” Justice Ekwo held