Don’t void police recruitment, AGF tells court

Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF),

Abubakar Malami

, has prayed a Federal High Court in Abuja not to void the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 candidates into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

The AGF’s position is contained in a counter-affidavit he filed in opposition to the suit by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

The PSC is challenging the proprietary of the recruitment directed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and prayed the court to void the exercise on the grounds that the IGP exercised the powers not assigned to him under any known law.

But in his counter-affidavit, the AGF said the process had gone past the “significant stages” and argued that if voided, would amount to an economic loss to the country.

The position held by the AGF, who is also listed as a defendant, supports the argument by the other three defendants – the NPF, the IGP, and the Minister of Police Affairs – who want the court to dismiss the suit.

The AGF stated that “the plaintiff’s Prayer 5 seeks to nullify the current process of recruitment of 10,000 persons for appointment in the NPF”.

He added: “That the recruitment process has gone through significant stages in filtering qualified persons for appointment.

“That millions of naira have been budgeted and expended on the current recruitment process of abut 10,000 persons into the Nigeria Police Force.

“That nullifying the current exercise will occasion serious economic loss to the country.”

Malami averred that since the establishment of the PSC, “the recruitment of persons for appointment into the Nigeria Police Force has been done by the first and second defendants (NPF and the IG)”.

He added that the plaintiff’s Prayer 5, seeking the nullification of the process being conducted by the NPF, “will create serious negative effect on the workforce of the 1st defendant (the NPF) as the validity of past exercises conducted will be questioned”.

In his written submission, the AGF argued that the Constitution “did not state recruitment as one of the functions of the PSC

“The word, ‘appointment’ cannot be accorded an expansive interpretation to include the initial enlistment or engagement recruitment of constables into the NPF.

“A proper construction of the word ‘appoint’ and ‘appointed’ in Section 215(1)(a) and (b), and Paragraph 30(a) of the Third Schedule, Part I of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and Section 24 of the Police Service Commission Act, shows that the appointment is to be made from persons already in the system.

“While it is the powers of the Police Service Commission to appoint police officers to various offices, it is the duty of the first and third defendants to conduct recruitment exercises for persons to be appointed by the Police Service Commission.”

The AGF had, in a September 16, 2019 letter of legal opinion he wrote upon a request by the Presidency, argued that the PSC only had the power to “appoint” police officers, while the powers to “recruit” them were those of the IGP and the Police Council.

He also cited a similar legal opinion issued by his immediate-past predecessor, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), on August 8, 2010, and addressed to the Ministry of Police Affairs, stating that it was the NPF that had the power to recruit into the Force.

At the resumed hearing in the case yesterday, Tijani Gazali, who represented the AGF, informed the court that the minister’s processes (documents) in opposition to the suit were filed shortly before the court commenced sitting.

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Kanu Agabi (SAN) asked for time to respond to the documents filed by the AGF.

Lawyer to the other three defendants – the NPF, IGP and the Minister of Police Affairs – Alex Izinyon (SAN) did not object to the request for adjournment.

Justice Inyang Ekwo adjourned further hearing till November 20, 2019.

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