The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has sued President Muhammadu Buhari for extending the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, who attained the maximum 35 years of service on February 1.
Mr Buhari, through the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammad Dinggyadi, had on February 4 announced the controversial elongation of the tenure of Mr Adamu as the IGP by three months.
The NBA argued through its suit filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on Thursday, that the tenure extension was “outside and in excess of the provision of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
It contended that the Nigerian Constitution and the Police Act, which was signed into law by Mr Buhari last year, prohibits a retired police officer from holding the office of the IGP
“The need to prevent abuse of power necessitated the filing of this action by the Nigerian Bar Association, whose main objective is to promote the rule of law,” Charles Mekwunye, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who leads the NBA’s legal team, argued in the suit.
Freelanews, on Friday, saw a copy of the court documents showing Mr Buhari listed along with the Police Service Commission (PSC) and Mr Adamu as the defendants.
The plaintiff in the suit marked FHC/L/CS/219/2021, prayed for among others, a declaration that Mr Buhari’s act “purporting to extend” Mr Adamu’s tenure as the IGP after his retirement from the service of the Nigeria Police Force “is in contravention of the provisions of Section 215(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and therefore, null and void.”
The umbrella body of Nigerian lawyers also urged the court to declare that Mr Buhari’s act “is in contravention of the provisions of Sections 7(3) & (6) and 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act. 2020, and therefore unlawful, null and void.”
It asked the court not to only set aside “the purported” tenure elongation” but to also order Mr Adamu “to vacate forthwith the office of the Inspector General of Police and refund all salaries, allowances and benefits received from February 1 2020 (when he retired from the Police Force) to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
The association also urged the court to issue an order of perpetual injunction restraining Mr Buhari from further acting in breach of the provisions of Section 2(5(I) of the Nigeria Constitution by extending the tenure of the occupant of the office of the IGP.
Mr Mekwunye, who is the chairperson of the newly set up Public Interest Litigation Committee (PILC) of the NBA, added in his written address, “We respectfully urge this honourable court to be firm and give vent and flesh to the provision of section 15(5) of the Constitution which says, ‘The state shall abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power’.”
The plaintiff’s lawyer stated that with the facts deposed to in support of the suit, “this honourable court would with the plaintiff that a gross breach of the provision of 1999 Constitution and the extant Police Act have been established against the defendants, and therefore entitles the plaintiff to the relief sought.”
“We pray our noble to hold that Mohammed Abbuakar Adamu, a retired police officer , cannot hold the office of Inspector General of Police,” the lawyer added.
The suit is the first major task of the newly inaugurated 13-man PILC of the NBA chaired by Mr Mekwunye, and co-chaired by Olumide Ayeni, also a. SAN.
The NBA on January 13 announced the setting up of committee to start taking up public interest litigation against perceived arbitrary action of government officials and institutions.
The suit followed an earlier one filed by an Abuja based lawyer, Maxwell Okpara, on February 3 to challenge Mr Adamu’s tenure.
The defendants have yet to file their response to the suit, but the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, had, on Wednesday, insisted that the President acted within the ambit of the law by extending Mr Adamu’s tenure.
Mr Malami, while appearing on a Channels Television programme, ‘Politics Today’, added that the president acted within the timeframe stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution and exercised his powers to appoint persons into offices subject to confirmation by the Senate.
“What I am saying in essence is that within the context of official records, within the context of the action taken by Mr President in terms of extension of tenure, the necessary compliance of with the law has been consummated, and the president was and indeed acted within the context of the law,” he said.
Mr Adamu, 59, who joined the police force on February 1, 1986, has remained in office days after he attained the maximum service period of 35 years.