By Henry Ojelu
The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has dragged President Muhammadu Buhari before the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court over his decision to extend the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Muhammadu Abubakar.
In the suit marked as FHC/L/CS/214/2021, the NBA is seeking judicial determination on whether the President has constitutional powers to extend by three months, the tenure of the IGP who had on February 1, 2021 attained 35 years of service as a member of the Nigeria Police Force.
Joined in the suit as co-defendants are the Police Service Commission (2nd defendant) and IGP Mohammed Abubakar (3rd defendant).
The NBA is seeking amongst other things, a declaration that the act of the President purporting to extend the tenure of the IGP after his retirement from the service of the Nigerian Police Force is in contravention of the provisions of Section of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and therefore illegal and void.
Other demands of the NBA include: ” A declaration that the a of the 1st defendant in purporting to extend the tenure of the 3rd defendant as the Inspector General of Police after his retirement from the service of the Nigeria Police Force is in contravention of the provisions of Sections 7(3) (6) and of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, and therefore unlawful, null and void.
“A declaration that the 1st defendant lacks the authority, vires and power to extend the tenure of the occupant/holder of the office of the Inspector General of Police.
“An order setting aside the purported elongation of the tenure of the 3rd Defendant as the Inspector General of Police of Nigeria.
“An order directing the 3rd defendant to vacate forthwith the office of the Inspector General of Police and refund all salaries, allowances and benefits received from February l, 2020 (when he retired from the Police Force) to the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 1st Defendant either by himself and/or acting through any of his Ministers, officers, servants and/or under any guise further breach the provisions of Section 215(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended by extending the tenure of the occupant of the office of the Inspector General of Police of Nigeria.”
Speaking on why his association decided to sue the President, NBA President Olumide Akpata said NBA’s decision to take this extraordinary line of action is underpinned by an urgent need, and a sacred duty, to reassert the supremacy of the rule of law in the face of growing impunity and the seeming reluctance of Law Officers in Government to give proper counsel
He also noted that the NBA is wary that the more government officials casually violate the law, the harder it would become to expect citizens to be compliant.
He said: “Citizens take their cues from their leaders and public office holders who flout the laws of the country that they are meant to uphold will discover sooner or later that their examples will be followed by those that they purport to govern.
“The ubiquity of acts of impunity, especially by those in high public offices, portends an existential threat to the survival of this country and her hard-won democracy. The NBA, now more than ever, is firmly committed to changing this narrative.
“As the outcome of the Suit is awaited, the NBA will continue to condemn and confront lawlessness in any form and from all quarters.”