IGP tenure open to interpretation – Lawyer
The Director General, Institute for Peace and Security Policy Research, Charles Omole, has said that the issue of the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police depends on one’s “school of thought”.
Mr Omole said this during an interview on Channels TV’s Politics Today, on Friday evening.
The PUNCH reported that controversy had trailed a statement by the Minister for Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, where he had said the Police Act 2020 gave the IGP a four-year tenure which could not be interrupted by retirement.
Concerns had been raised about the possible retirement of the IGP due to his age, as he turns 60 on March 1, 2023, and would have spent the required 35 years of service in the Force on March 15, 2023, which is the day he joined the Force.
Reacting, Omole said the Police Act 2020 was created and signed by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to curb the situation of the frequent sacking and replacement of the Inspector-General of Police, causing the country to have had about 10 of them in 10 years.
He said the issue of the tenure of the IGP being four years was subject to interpretation, regarding whether it meant a minimum of four years, or a maximum of four years, depending either on when such an officer had been appointed, or when he had reached his mandated 35 years of service.
“In section 7 of that (Police) Act, there are two key conditions that were given to be appointed Inspector-General of Police; one, you have to be of the rank of AIG and above, and number two, you are appointed for a period of four years. But those two sections were subject to Section 18 of the Act, which says all police officers, including the IG, can only serve till they are age 60 or they have done 35 years in service. Now, how Section 7 is interpreted depends on – and probably we might need judicial review of this – depends on how, which school of thought you are coming from.
“For example, there are those who construe Section 7, the four years, as being the minimum term; there are those that construe it as the maximum term. But the issue is this, depending on how you view it, if you view it as being a minimum term, it means that by the time of your appointment as IG, you must have minimum of four years left in service till you are 60 or you are 35 years in service.
“So, which means if you see it as a minimum term, it means you cannot be appointed if you don’t have that four years left in service, that’s number one. If you see it as a maximum term as in four years, because the law simply said four years, it means, therefore, that you can do less than four years, but four years is the maximum you can do. So, somebody who has two years left in service can be appointed IG if you view it as the minimum term. It is not four years, but its within that four years. But what cannot happen is anyone remaining in the Force past the age of 60 or past 35 years of service.”
Omole, who is also a lawyer, further stated that the President did not reserve the power to extend the tenure of the IGP and expressed concerns that such an intervention of the President may cause problems for the legacies of the IGP.
“The irony of this whole thing is that the IG is actually doing a fantastic job. And I am just concerned that you don’t want to tarnish that legacy, by now being enmeshed in all kinds of illegalities. Because the challenge here is that if he stays one day beyond that day, there will be, as sure as there is day tomorrow, there will be a judicial review, and you don’t want to be the first IG sucked by the court.”