By S.A. ADESHEILA, ESQ, ACArb.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recently extended the tenure of the Inspector General of Police against the express intent and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The President during the period of his swearing in, vow to defend the same Constitution he is now running fowl against.

Section 215 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) stipulate thus:

There shall be-

  • An Inspector-General of Police who, subject to section 216 (2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice to the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force;

The expression and the words used in the Constitution are unambiguous, the underlining words are for clarity purpose. The Constitution provides that for a person to occupy the office of the Inspector-General of Police, the officer must be from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force, any other person except as provided for in the Constitution cannot hold such office.

The Nigerian Police Force is also regulated by the Nigerian Police Force Act, 2020. The Act also stipulate the person who can occupy the office of the Inspector-General of Police. Section 7 (3) of the Act stipulates thus:

The Inspector-General of Police shall be appointed on the advice of the Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.

Section 215(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Section 7(3) of the Nigerian Police Force Act, 2020 are in a marriage covenant by not betraying each other.

The tenure of the man seating in the office of the inspector General of Police expired on the 1st day of February, 2021 by virtue of Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 and in conjunction with Section 215 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 stipulates thus:

Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60years, whichever is earlier.

Mr. Mohammed Adamu joined the Nigerian Police Force on February 2, 1986 and he was given birth to 17th day of September, 1961; by implication he became 35years as an officer on the 1st day of February, 2021 which is the mandatory age of retirement and would be 60years of age by 17th day of September, 2021.

The provisions of Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 is very clear and unambiguous, the Act stipulates that whichever one is earlier.

The intention of the legislature is paramount and discernible only by reference to the words used in the very statutes being interpreted and applied. The golden rule of interpretation of statutes is that where the words used in a statute are clear and unambiguous, they must be given their natural and ordinary meaning. The Court in the case of Ibrahim v. Barde (1996) 9 NWLR (Pt. 474) 513 @ 517 B-C per Uwais, CJN (as he then was) that if the words of the statute are precise and unambiguous, no more is required to expound them in their natural and ordinary sense. He held further that the words of the statute alone, in such circumstance, best declare the intention of the lawmaker.

It is clear that the intention of the lawmaker by virtue of Section 18 (8) of the Nigeria Police Force Act, 2020 that an officer who attain the age of 60 while still serving or who is an officer for a period of 35 years whichever comes first must retire from active service. The wordings are clear and unambiguous.

The Constitution also went further to state who can be an Inspector-General of Police in Section 215 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

By implication of the above provisions, can the President unilaterally amend the provisions of our Constitution under a democratic dispensation? The answer is NO.

Can we rightly say Mr. Mohammed Adamu who attain the compulsory age of retirement on the 1st day of February, 2021 still a police officer by virtue of the Constitution and the Police Act? The answer is still NO.

The impunity of Mr. President must stop, the disregard by the President to the law of the land by making himself a god over all must be put to an end.

The President must be reminded that this is a democratic dispensation and not military junta where he can shun out orders in disregard to the law of the land.

The action of Mr. President run contrary to the provisions of the Constitution and the Police Act and same must be reverse, Mr. Mohammed Adamu must return all salary earned and privileges enjoyed after his retirement.

S.A. ADESHEILA, ESQ, ACArb.

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