Daily Trust

IMF cuts Nigeria’s 2021 growth outlook to 1.7% Police reform suffers setback as A/Court voids Act

We can’t reform police by legislatio­n – Lawyers No ex-SARS operative will be part of SWAT – IG Pro, anti-SARS protests continue

- By Maureen Onochie, John Chuks Azu, Muideen Olaniyi, Abdullatee­f Salau, Terkula Igidi, Abubakar Sadiq Isah, Abbas Jimoh, Olayemi John- Mensah (Abuja), Sani Ibrahim Paki (Kano) & Titus Eleweke (Awka)

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

Analysts believed the nullificat­ion of the act was a serious setback for President Muhammadu Buhari who assented to the bill and the National Assembly, which signed it into law.

President Buhari had promised reform of the Nigeria Police Force amidst continued #EndSARS violent protests across the country despite the scrapping of the anti-robbery outfit.

It was gathered that the details of the Appeal Court judgment, which nullified the Police Act, 2020, were contained in the Certified True Copy received by the PSC yesterday.

A statement signed by the PSC’s Head of Press and Public Relations, Mr Ikechukwu Ani, said the Court of Appeal judgment ruled that the provision of the act was obviously 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 for the Office of the InspectorG­eneral of Police.

He said Justice Emmanuel Akomaye 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.”

Ani stated that Agim declared that no act of the National Assembly or law could take away or curtail such power.

According to him, Agim noted that even if the Nigeria Police carried out the disputed enlistment pursuant to a directive or approval of the president of the federation, “the enlistment would remain contrary to the constituti­on and therefore unconstitu­tional and void. Such a directive cannot repair its unconstitu­tionality and illegality.”

Ani mentioned that the commission 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.

Presidency, Senate decline comment

When contacted for comment, the spokesman of the president, Malam Garba Shehu asked our reporter to contact the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.

However, Malami’s spokesman, Dr Umar Gwandu, said they needed to see the details of the judgment before commenting on the matter.

“We haven’t seen the report but we will make our opinion known as soon as we see it,” he told the Daily Trust last night.

There was no comment from the Force Headquarte­rs at the time of filing this report.

President Buhari had in a memo dated September 16, 2020, communicat­ed his assent to the Police Act 2020, to the National Assembly.

His Special Adviser on Media, Femi Adesina, in a statement issued on Thursday, September 17, 2020, said the Act repealed the Police Act Cap. P19 Laws of the Federation, 2004.

Adesina added that the Act provides for a more effective and well organised Police Force, driven by the principles of transparen­cy and accountabi­lity in its operations and management of its resources.

When approached to comment on the matter, Senate Spokespers­on, Ajibola Basiru, in a response to Daily Trust inquiry, said he would only react when he reads the judgment.

‘We can’t reform police by legislatio­n’

Senior lawyers have called for holistic constituti­onal amendment that would incorporat­e reforms of the Nigerian Police Force, which they said cannot be done by acts of parliament.

Paul Ananaba (SAN) said Nigerians must learn to act in accordance with the constituti­on in reforming the Nigerian Police.

“It has to be by proper review of the constituti­on by amendment; we have done four alteration­s already and now the National Assembly is embarking on another alteration of the constituti­on.

“Many times, we try to do the same thing the wrong way. You recall that in 2005, the National Assembly enacted a Monetary Act for Local Government Funds, and you saw that the Attorneys General of Abia, Delta and Lagos went to the Supreme Court to challenge it. And the Supreme Court said ‘yes, you cannot use an Act of Parliament to amend the constituti­on’,” he said.

In his contributi­on, Yusuf Ali (SAN) said when it comes to appointmen­t into the Nigerian Police, the constituti­on must prevail over the Police Act as pronounced by the Court of Appeal. He called for an amendment to ensure that state governors, who are the chief security officers of their states, have the authority to give lawful orders to the police and other security agencies.

“One of the things we have to do is to copy what they do in England and other places where they have the police ombudsman outside the Police Service Commission, that will a body of independen­t Nigerians who have been tested. They have the powers to recommend dismissal,” he said.

For his part, Mike Ozekhome (SAN) said the pronouncem­ent of the Court of Appeal on the Police Act is final even on an Act of the National Assembly based on the doctrine of separation of powers.

“The function of the judiciary under Section 6 of the Constituti­on is to interpret laws made by the legislatur­e under Section 4, which are enforced under Section 5 by the executive. Once the court has pronounced on any issue that is final in the sense of finality,” he said.

“Once the Court of Appeal has ruled that that section is null and void and that it is only the Police Service Commission that can recruit and not the Inspector General of Police that is the end of the matter unless that judgment is overturned by a superior court. So, the Police Service Commission is right,” he said.

No ex- SARS operative will be part of SWAT - Police

The Force Headquarte­rs said yesterday that no former operative of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) will be part of the new Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) unit.

The comment came following agitations that the SWAT would be made up of the disbanded SARS officials.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Frank Mba, who is the public relations officer of the police said “the Mandate of the new tactical team is strictly restricted to; Response to robbery attacks, Response to scenes of weapon-related crimes, Rescue operations, [and] Special operations involving high profile criminals.”

According to him, “No personnel of the defunct SARS will be selected to be part of the new tactical team. Operations of the new tactical team will be strictly intelligen­ce-driven.

“Members of the new tactical team will by no means embark on routine patrols. Members of the new tactical team are barred from indiscrimi­nate and unlawful search of phones, laptops and other smart devices.

“Operatives of the new tactical team must be free of any pending disciplina­ry matter especially those touching on misuse of firearms and abuse of human rights,” he said.

PDP govs demand repeal of new Police Act

However, governors elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described as ‘unconstitu­tional’ some sections of the newly signed Police Act, 2020, which was set aside by the Court of Appeal.

The PDP governors during a meeting that was held via Zoom, called for the immediate repeal of all controvers­ial sections over alleged constituti­onal breaches.

A communiqué signed by the Chairman of PDP Governors

Forum and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, at the end of the meeting, which was made available to newsmen noted that there were discrepanc­ies in S.12(2) and S.12(4) of the Act.

They specifical­ly 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 them, the said deduction was patently unconstitu­tional.

“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.

“Furthermor­e, the forum canvassed for appropriat­e consultati­ons with the governors of various states on the deployment of police commission­ers to the states since the police is a common institutio­n that executes the laws of both the federal and state government­s,” the governors said.

Hoodlums attack #EndSARS protesters, vandalise cars

Hoodlums yesterday attacked the #EndSARS protesters who formed a blockade at the Berger intersecti­on in Abuja.

The hoodlums brandishin­g cutlasses and cudgels invaded the Berger fourway-intersecti­on where the protesters camped since last weekend.

Some of the protesters alleged that the hoodlums were sponsored considerin­g that they drove in buses and nobody obstructed their movements up till the time they attacked their targets.

An eyewitness, Mr Anthony Ikyoive, said the thugs attacked and injured unspecifie­d number of people and vandalised at least five cars parked in the area.

Daily Trust learnt the protesters regrouped and chased away the hoodlums. The protesters caused gridlock in the city.

One of our reporters who was caught in a similar protest along Airport Road in Abuja observed that hoodlums attacked the #EndSARS protesters with sticks and some dangerous weapons.

The FCT Police Commission­er, Bala Ciroma, confirmed the incidents saying five vehicles were vandalised during the clash, which he said ensued between supporters of SARS and the #EndSARS protesters.

He said the command was not aware of any casualty recorded during the clash, even as he said the command was still investigat­ing the incident.

Rallies, protests in states

Hundreds of youths staged a peaceful rally in Kano calling for the reform of SARS instead of scrapping it.

The youths, under the umbrella of Coalition of Kano State Youths, matched from the state’s Ministry for Informatio­n at the Audu Bako Secretaria­t to the Government House carrying big banners with inscriptio­ns that called on President Buhari and the IGP to reconsider the scrapping of ARS.

The leader of the youths, Sunusi Kani said the rally was to send a message to the federal government that the police SARS only needed reformatio­n rather than ending it.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje in his response thanked the youths for their foresight and promised to forward their demands to President Buhari for considerat­ion. In Anambra, protests continued yesterday in Awka with a call for a total reform of the Nigeria Police Force. The protesters also demanded for the prosecutio­n of a former SARS boss in the state, CSP James Nwafor, whom they accused of killing and maiming countless young people in the state.

Lagos CP cautions operatives police

The Commission­er of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, has warned officers and men of the disbanded SARS to desist from parading themselves as such in line with the directive of IGP Adamu.

Odumosu gave this warning while debriefing operatives of the disbanded SARS including the Anti- Kidnapping Squad, Anti -Cultism Squad and Raider at the Command Headquarte­rs in Ikeja.

He said the debriefing was in compliance with the directive of the IG to disband and ground the activities of the teams in the state.

He advised the affected officers to hand over all pending cases to the State Criminal Investigat­ion Department, Panti, Yaba, with immediate effect.

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 ??  ?? Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu
Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu

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