The hiring of 10,000 constables by the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) this year may have suffered a setback going by a Court of Appeal judgment on Wednesday.
The new recruits were screened between August 24 and September 6 in various locations ahead of training.
But in the judgment on Wednesday, the Abuja Division of the appellate court voided last year’s exercise in which 10,000 were hired under the IGP’s supervision.
The Police Service Commission (PSC) had sued at the Federal High Court, Abuja, challenging the IGP’s powers to recruit constables.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, on December 2, 2019, dismissed the suit, but the PSC appealed.
The Court of Appeal on Wednesday set aside Justice Ekwo’s verdict and allowed PSC’s appeal.
A three-man panel, presided over by Justice Peter Ige, unanimously held that the IGP lacked the power to recruit the constables.
The Appeal Court held that the power lies exclusively with the PSC.
Justice Ige resolved all the issues for determination in favour of the appellant.
The appellate court held that the word “appointment” used in the Constitution, as it relates to the powers conferred on the PSC included “the power of recruitment and or enlistment of recruit constables”.
The court held that the Police Regulation and or provisions of the Police Act, which purportedly vested the IGP with the power of recruiting constables “is null and void, being in conflict with the Constitutional powers vested in the Police Service Commission”.
The Court of Appeal declared the recruitment carried out by the IGP as “null and void”.
It also granted all the reliefs sought by the PSC in its amended originating summons before the Federal High Court.
The appellate court earlier dismissed the preliminary objection filed by the respondents – the Nigeria Police Force, the IGP and the Minister of Police Affairs.
Justice Ekwo had held that the law guiding the enlistment of constables into the NPF was 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.
He was of the view that Section 71 of the Nigeria Police Service Regulations, 1968, gave the power to enlist constables to the IGP and not the PSC.
Justice Ekwo held that the PSC, by its enabling law, retained the exclusive powers to promote, demote, dismiss and discipline any police officer apart from the IGP.