The controversy surrounding the power of the President to extend the tenure of any retiring Inspector General of Police, pending the completion of the process of appointing a successor, was yesterday laid to rest with the affirmation of the President's power to do so by the ruling of a federal high court in Abuja.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on February 4 extended the tenure of Mohammed Adamu as Inspector-General of Police by three months after he clocked the mandatory 35 years in service on February 1.
However, a legal practitioner, Maxwell Opara, dragged the president and IGP to court, arguing that by virtue of section 215 of the Nigerian Constitution and section 7 of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, Adamu cannot continue to function as the IGP, having completed 35 years in service.
In his defence, the IGP told the federal high court that the new Nigeria Police Act gave him a four-year tenure, which would only lapse in either 2023 or 2024.
Supporting Adamu's position, President Buhari and the attorney-general of the federation, Abubakar Malami - who are the second and third defendants in the matter - told the court through their lawyer that the law permits the IGP to remain in office until either 2023 or 2024.
In his judgment yesterday, Ahmed Mohammed, the presiding judge, held that since the constitution and the police act empower the president to appoint an IGP, by implication, he could extend the tenure of a retiring IGP before concluding the required consultation with the police council and other processes required for the appointment of a substantive replacement.
The judge also observed that the constitution and the police act were silent on the issue of whether or not the president could extend the tenure of a retired IGP.
Some senior advocates of Nigeria (SANs) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), had assailed Buhari for extending Adamu's tenure.
They declared his action as violating the 1999 Constitution as (amended) and the Police Act (2020).
Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Mohammad Dingyadi, told State House reporters in Abuja that Adamu's tenure elongation would allow for proper screening of all qualified senior police officers before the eventual choice of a new IG.
He said then: "Mr. President has decided that the present IG, Mohammed Adamu, will continue to serve as the IG for the next three months to allow for a robust and efficient process of appointing a new IG.
"This is not unconnected to the desire of Mr. President to not only have a smooth handover but to also ensure that the right officer is appointed into that position. Mr. President is extending by three months to allow him to get into the process of allowing a new one."
Adamu was eventually retired on April 6, when the current IGP, Usman Alkali was named by the President as the acting IGP.