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Lawyers, PSC union say IGP’s tenure extension illegal

…we have no power over the IGP – PSC

The controversy surrounding the reported extension of the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police, Usman Baba, has taken a twist as lawyers and the Joint Union Congress of the Police Service Commission have declared the action as illegal and unconstitutional.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, had said Baba’s appointment as IGP was for a single tenure of four years.

During an engagement with State House correspondents, he also expressed concerns over the misrepresentation of his response on the tenure for the IGP by a section of the media.

Mr Dingyadi said the IG was appointed by President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) on April 6, 2021 and confirmed by the Nigeria Police Council, headed by the President, in June 2021 for a single tenure of four years.

He added, “The appointment and confirmation were done as provided for, in Section 7 (3), and Section 7 (6) of the Police Act, 2020 which amongst others states ‘that the person appointed to the office of the IG shall hold office for four years’. These provisions of the 2020 amended Police Act should not be misconstrued for tenure extension as erroneously reported in some sections of the media.”

Reacting to the situation, the Police Service Commission said it had no authority to take decisions at the level of the office of the IG, adding that the commission was observing the event as it unfolded.

But the Joint Union Congress of the Police Service Commission has asked Nigerians to rise to the occasion, while describing the situation as an impending daylight robbery.

The Chairman of the Joint Service Union, PSC chapter, Mr Adoyi Adoyi, who spoke with our correspondent on Friday, said, “We must also note that despite the prerogative powers of the President, he is limited to the provisions of the Constitution.

“The IG’s retirement is a statutory and constitutional issue and no other laws of the land can change the grundnorm even though the President is being manipulated to extend the IG’s tenure when Act in fact states that, for an IG who is so appointed to enjoy that clause of four year tenure as stipulated in the Police Act, 2020, such IG must also have no less than four years remaining in service as a police officer.”

Adoyi also noted that several positions of the Police Act, 2020 were set aside by the Court of Appeal, for being in contravention of the Constitution.

He added, “I think the Minister of Police Affairs should be guided that they don’t quote a section of law in isolation of others. So while considering any clause in a law, other clauses must be considered, otherwise, the very essence of the law is lost.

“They tried to hurriedly package a selfish agenda in the Police Act, 2020, and in the course of that made vast aspects of the law so anomalous and acephalous.

“Even now, they’re trying to make it benefit themselves by all means, thereby not only misleading the President but the entire country. The IG and his current police management team have severally trampled on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and he continues to muscle the PSC with all that is available to him, including political contacts.”

Meanwhile, some lawyers who spoke to Sunday PUNCH, said it was illegal for the IG to remain in office beyond the stipulated date of retirement when he clocked 60.

A human rights lawyer, Mr Festus Ogun, said the extension of the IG’s tenure was illegal and unconstitutional.

Ogun said, “The position of the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, is rooted in grave misconception of our extant laws. The Inspector-General of Police cannot stay in office beyond 60 years of age.

“No doubt, Section 7(6) of the Police Act, 2020 provides that a person appointed as Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years. However, Section 18(8) of the same law provides that every police officer shall serve in the Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.

Another lawyer, Deji Adejare said, “The current confusion seems to stem from the provisions of S.7(6) which provides that the IG shall hold office for four years. One would ordinarily not expect this to create any confusion since the person who holds the office of IG must be a police officer.

“However, if such a person has attained the age of 60 or served for 35 years, such a person ceases to be a police officer and lacks the basic qualification to be an IG.”

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