Appeal court declares Police Act 2020 illegal, nullifies constable recruitment

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The Court of Appeal has declared as unconstitutional and void, the Police Act 2020, enacted in September this year as it affects the constitutional mandate of the Police Service Commission.

It ruled that the provision of the Act was in conflict with paragraph 30 Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution “which empowers the commission to appoint persons into offices in the Nigeria Police Force except the Office of the Inspector-General of Police.”

The judgment also nullified the recruitment of 10,000 constables carried out by the police authorities last year.

However, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has appealed the ruling which nullified the earlier order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The PSC spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, in a statement on Wednesday, explained that the details of the Appeal Court judgment were contained in the Certified True Copy received on Tuesday.

The statement was titled, ‘Appeal Court declares Police Act 2020 as it affects PSC mandate null and void.’

It said, “Justice Emmanuel Agim, one of the three Justices of the court in his concurrent judgment, ruled that Paragraph 30 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution has given the power to the commission to appoint persons into offices in the Nigeria Police and did not exclude constables and cadets to Nigeria Police Academy from offices in the Nigeria Police into which the appellant can appoint persons.”

The statement explained that the judge further declared that “no Act of the National Assembly or law can take away or curtail such power.”

He further noted that, even if the Nigeria Police carried out the disputed enlistment pursuant to a directive or approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), “the enlistment would remain contrary to the constitution and therefore, unconstitutional and void. Such a directive cannot repair its unconstitutionality and illegality.”

In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Olabisi Ige, the Court of Appeal gave a declaration that by virtue of section 1 subsection 3 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) “any piece of legislation or instrument relied upon by the defendants (including but not limited to the Police Act and the Police Regulations) in exercising or purporting to exercise the powers to appoint, promote, dismiss or discipline persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force, being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution particularly section 153 subsection (1)(m), section 153 subsection (2) and section 215(1)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Paragraph 30 part 1 of the Third Schedule to the Constitution, is invalid, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

It also gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the police, and other defendants, jointly and severally, from interfering or further interfering in any manner, howsoever, with the commission’s discharge of its constitutional and statutory functions “in respect of the appointment, promotion, dismissal, or exercise of disciplinary control over persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force other than the IG.”

The PSC said it would soon make public its programme of action in respect of recruitments into the constable cadre of the Nigeria Police Force and admission into the Police Academy.

PDP govs declare new Police Act unconstitutional

The Peoples Democratic Party Governors’ Forum has called for a repeal of sections of the Police Act recently accented to by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), citing constitutional breaches.

This was contained in a communique issued after a Zoom meeting held by the PDP governors.

The communique was signed by the Chairman of the forum, Aminu Tambuwal, who is also the governor of Sokoto State.

A copy of the communique was made available to reporters in Abuja, on Wednesday.

The governors among other things, implored the president and the National Assembly to repeal Section 4(1) of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund (Establishment) Act, 2019 which “purportedly authorises the President to deduct 0.5% of the total revenue accruing to the Federation Account for the benefit of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.”

According to the governors, the said deduction is patently unconstitutional.

The communiqué read in part, “The meeting noted the signing of the New Nigeria Police Act, 2020 by Mr. President, Commander in Chief.

“While acknowledging the many important innovations in the new law, the Forum emphasised the need to make the Nigeria Police Council, which has Mr. President as Chairman and 36 state Governors as members, fully operational and the clearing house on all issues bordering on the organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.

“The Forum further observed the discrepancies in S.12(2) and S.12(4) of the Act on the appropriate authority with responsibility to deploy Police Commissioners to the respective States. Whereas S.12(2) gives the responsibility to the Police Service Commission, S. 12(4) gives either the Police Service Commission or Inspector-General of Police the same responsibility.

“This is even more regrettable as the Constitution gives this responsibility to the Police Service Commission (S. 215) (1)(b). We advise that the constitutional provision be upheld.