Malami to court: Don’t cancel recruitment of 10, 000 constables on economic grounds

Access Bank Plc

Mr Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, on Wednesday, urged the Federal High Court, Abuja to consider the economic implication of nullifying the recruitment of 10,000 police constables as requested by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

Malami, in a counter-affidavit filed by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, SAN, opposed the suit instituted by the PSC to challenge the proprietary of the constables’ recruitment process by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

He told Justice Inyang Ekwo that cancelling the process which he said had gone through “significant stages,” as requested by the commission, would amount to an economic loss for the country.

It was reported that the PSC had taken the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables.

In the motion on notice filed on Sept. 24, the commission is praying 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.”

The PSC asked Justice Ekwo to nullify the process already commenced by the NPF and the Inspector-General (I-G) of Police, Muhammed Adamu, and declare it as the body with the exclusive powers to carry out the recruitment process.

However, Malami, who was later joined as a defendant in the case following the NPF’s application, backed the three pre-existing defendants; the NPF, the IG and the Minister of Police Affairs, urging the court to dismiss the suit.

“The plaintiff’s prayer 5 seeks to nullify the current process of recruitment of 10,000 persons for appointment in the Nigerian Police Force.

“The recruitment process has gone through significant stages in filtering qualified persons for appointment.

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

“Nullifying the current exercise will occasion serious economic loss to the country,” he said.

The AGF, in his counter-affidavit opposing the PSC’s suit, 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.

Malami stated that since the establishment of the PSC, “the recruitment of persons for appointment into the Nigeria Police Force has been done by the 1st and 2nd 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.”

Malami contended that the Nigerian Constitution “did not state recruitment as one of the functions of the Police Service Commission”.

He added, “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 f the Police Service Commission Act, shows that the appointment is to be made from persons already in the system.”

He stated further that, “While it is the powers of the Police Service Commission to appoint police officers to various offices, it is the duty of the 1st t 3rd defendants to conduct recruitment exercises for persons to be appointed by the Police Service Commission.”

At the Wednesday’s proceedings before Justice Ekwo, the AGF was represented by Mr Tijjani Gazali, who informed the judge that the AGF’s processes opposing the suit were filed shortly before the proceedings began.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, asked for time to respond to it.

The first three defendants; the NPF, IG and the Minister of Police Affairs, represented by Dr. Alex Izinyon,, SAN, did not oppose the adjournment request.

The judge then adjourned till Nov. 20 for hearing.

It was reported that Justice Ekwo, had, on Nov. 4, re-affirmed an order for parties to the suit to maintain status quo.