The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, to release to the Centre for Social Justice (CENSOJ) the details of the 80,115 ghost officers the police said were discovered recently across Nigeria.
The police had claimed it discovered the ghost officers in the course of implementation of the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) in line with the directive of the federal government.
On March 21, 2018, the then Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, while presenting an updated report on the implementation of the IPPIS to the Federal Executive Council, confirmed the existence of 80,115 ghost police officers on the payroll of the federal government.
The IPPIS is an Information Communications Technology, ICT-based payroll administration system initiated by the federal government to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of payment of salaries of workers in its Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Following the claims by the police, CENSOJ said it observed that the report was not accompanied with the details of the affected officers across the country.
In a Freedom of Information request to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) on April 3, 2018, the social and economic rights civic group demanded this information.
However, the office of the IGP did not make the said information available to the group and did not give reasons.
CENSOJ goes to court
Consequently, CENSOJ approached the Federal High Court in Abuja in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/493/2018 against the IGP Mohammed Adamu.
It alleged that the denial of the information by the IGP constituted an infringement of its right guaranteed and protected by Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
In its motion on notice filed on June 13, CENSOJ asked the court to declare that the continued refusal of the IGP to grant it access to the details of the 80,115 ghost police officers without explanation was an infringement of its right under Section 48 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
The group asked the court to compel the police to provide the names and contact addresses of the "ghost police officers", their ranks, bank account numbers, bank verification numbers, their monthly salaries and emoluments and total money paid to each and every one of them so far.
Also, it asked the court to compel the police to pay it N500,000 as damages for denying it access to information on the ghost police officers.
During the hearing on the application, the police did not put in any defence.
On October 22, the Federal High Court presided by Binta Nyako delivered judgment granting CENSOJ all its reliefs.
PREMIUM TIMES obtained a copy of the judgment from the court on Tuesday.
Specifically, the court ruled that denying the applicant access to the details of the ghost officers without explanation constituted an infringement of its right guaranteed and protected by Section 1 (1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
Also, that the continued refusal of the IGP to grant CENSOJ access to the details of the ghost officers despite its demand violates Section 4 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 and Section 48 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007.
The court also granted an order of Mandamus to compel the IGP to grant CENSOJ access to the ghost officers, including their names and contact addresses, ranks, bank account numbers, bank verification numbers, their monthly salaries and emoluments as well as the total money paid to each of the officers.
The police was also ordered to pay the group N500,000 as damages for denying it access to information.
CENSOJ Reacts to ruling
The Lead Director of CENSOJ, Eze Onyekpere, told PREMIUM TIMES on Tuesday his organization was delighted with the ruling of the court over the matter.
He said he expects the police as a law-abiding institution to obey the rule of law and comply with the order of the court in the matter.