By G9ija

The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court yesterday held that the power to recruit personnel into the Nigeria Police Force rests with the Inspector General of Police (IG) and not with the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Justice Inyang Ekwo made the declaration in a judgment delivered in a suit challenging the recent recruitment of 10,000 constables by the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu.

The suit, which was filed by the PSC, has the IG, the Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Police Council, Minister of Police Affairs and the Attorney General of the Federation as defendants.
PSC had sued the NPF over the ongoing recruitment campaign of 10,000 constables as approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In the suit with number: FHC/ABJ/CS/1124/2019 and filed on September 24, the PSC 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.”

Justice Ekwo had earlier fixed December 4 to deliver judgment in the suit after taking arguments of counsel representing parties, but he abridged the time due to the volume of political cases before the court.
Ekwo, in the judgment, said from the evidence before him, he was convinced that it is the Nigerian Police Council under the supervision of the Inspector General of Police that has the statutory power to recruit into the force.

The judge held that the plaintiff was unable to prove that it has the power to recruit into the police force and the court cannot ascribe to the plaintiff power it does not have.

Justice Ekwo said the PSC Establishment Act 2001 that was not considered by parties in this case was what he considered as the overriding powers given to the president in Section 9.
The judge said based on the provision, the president had the power to give directive to the PSC and that the commission was duty bound to comply.

According to him, this means that the plaintiff cannot question the president’s directive with regard to the performance of its functions.
He also said the PSC ought to have shown evidence that the president gave a directive to it to recruit the police constables.

He said such a directive would have placed the recruitment squarely within the purview of the PSC.
According Ekwo, “Rank and file” is a military term, which also applies to NPF. It is defined as the ordinary soldier as opposed to the officer. Therefore, recruitment here is that of the ordinary member of the NPF who holds no rank.
“Enlisting is a term used in the military to engage for service as in army or navy.”
He said the plaintiff had attempted to extend its statutory power by defining the word “appointment” to include the word “recruitment.”

He described the action as a great flaw, adding that he could not ascribe to the plaintiff the power it did not have.
The judge said there could never be any appointment of the rank and file into the NPF without prior enlistment.
He said after studying all the evidence of the plaintiff, they had nothing to do with the case.
Ekwo, therefore, dismissed the PSC’s suit for lacking in merit.

“Consequently, I hold that it is the police council under the Inspector General of Police that has the power to carry out recruitment into the police force. I hereby make an order dismissing the case for lacking in merit,” Justice Ekwo held.

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