The Police Service Commission (PSC) has described as illegal, the decision by President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the service of Mr. Abdulkadir Dauda, a police commissioner whose retirement has reportedly been deferred to 2023. The PSC argues that the president does not have the power to extend Dauda’s tenure because Dauda is not a political appointee; saying Buhari’s action was an affront to the law setting up the PSC, which gives the commission sole responsibility for the appointments, promotion, and discipline of all policemen below the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Dauda, the chief personal security officer to the president, hails from Daura like Buhari and was billed to retire on January 1, 2020 when he would have served for the mandatory 35 years in service. He enlisted in the Nigerian Police Force as a cadet on January 1, 1985. PSC sources told Huhuonline.com that a leaked fiat from Police Secretary, Usman Alkali, an Assistant IGP to the Police Department of Information Technology, had conveyed President Buhari’s decision with a directive to the section to amend its records accordingly that Dauda would now retire in 2023 when he would be 60 years old.
But the PSC through its spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, said the presidential directive breached civil service rules that guide the tenure and retirement of public officers, explaining that an officer was required to leave the service upon attainment of 35 years in service or 60 years of age, whichever one comes first. Ani said although the commission had not been formally informed on the extension, public service rules were clear on the period or tenure of service of every civil servant.
“The public service rule is very clear. It is either you attain 35 years in service and you retire, or you do so at the age of 60. That is what the public service rule says for a civil servant. The commission has not met to take a decision on this. We just saw it yesterday. We noticed that yesterday and he has not formally come before the commission. The commission will meet and consider what is supposed to be done. The commission has not as a body met to consider the development. When they meet, they will take a decision on it,” Ani noted.
But Aso Rock sources defended Buhari’s action, arguing that the president’s decision was in line with his predecessors - Obasanjo and Yar’Adua, now deceased, who extended the tenures of former Inspectors General of Police, Sunday Ehindero and Mike Okiro respectively. Ehindero’s tenure was extended by one year on March 20, 2006 to May 29, 2007, while Okiro’s was extended to 2010. Buhari has also extended the tenure of the present service chiefs severally.
However, a former PSC chairman and retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Parry Osayande, disagreed; explaining that the case of Daura was different because he is still a Commissioner of Police, who is under the commission, unlike the IGPs who are under the president. He cited Section 215, sub 1, paragraph (a) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that: “An Inspector-General of Police… subject to Section 216 (2) of this Constitution, shall be appointed by the president on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.” Osayande urged the president to adhere to the rule of law. “Nobody is indispensable. When you make a law; you follow the law. They make a mockery of the whole thing. It is wrong. This can only happen in Africa, in Nigeria. Let them do the right thing.”
On his part, the Executive Director, Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Center, Okechukwu Nwangwuma, said the extension of Daura’s tenure was a clear case of nepotism on the part of the president, the police officer in question being from his town. He described it as illegal and an act of corruption. He said: “This one is a clear case of nepotism by the president because one, this man is from the president’s village. I also heard that this man benefited from multiple promotions. Now, the civil service rule says 35 years or the attainment of 60 years, whichever one comes first. “Now the one that came first is 35 years so there is no basis to extend his service except for nepotism and this is a government that has the fight against corruption as one of its signature commitments, so it is clear by this singular act that this government is promoting corruption. It is subverting basic civil service rules.”
Nwangwuma said Buhari lacked the powers to extend the service of any police officer, except the IGP.
The Head of the Human Rights Writers Association, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said there was no reason for the extension, as Dauda was not indispensable. “That is an illegality. Is he better than other 200,000 policemen in the country? The government should not engage in nepotism. The right decisions should be taken at all times. There are other police officers, who can do this job,” he said.
Also, speaking on the issue and the service chiefs who are still in service long after the expiration of their tenure, some lawyers described the action of the president as a breach of the law regulating the employment of civil servants. Akinlolu Kehinde (SAN), said since a civil servant was not appointed by the president, the president lacked power to determine his or her duration in office. He held that the provision of the law as regarding employment into government offices are sacrosanct and as such must be strictly obeyed by all.
“Those are statutory regulated appointments; they don’t stay in that office at the pleasure of the president. They are not appointees of the president, so, why should the president extend their tenure. It is either you are 60 years old or 35 years on the job and after that you go,” he said. The senior advocate, who described the action of the president as illegal, however, noted that if the president found the service of any civil servant, who is due for retirement expedient, the only option available to him is to engage such a person on a contract basis.
“If he is retaining them because nobody can replace them, or there is no other trained hand, or no other competent person that can carry out such responsibility or duties on behalf of the government, then he can retain them on contract basis.
He explained: “Appointment of civil servants enjoy statutory flavour, there is a set down procedure of engagement, of discipline and disengagement, which must be strictly followed. That is why you cannot just wake up and say that you are retiring somebody if the person has not reached retirement age or disengage him if they have not gone through the disciplinary process or any infraction.”
While declining to speak on the consequences of the president’s action, the senior lawyer, however, stated that it is left to those who have interest in public litigation to challenge it.
Another lawyer, Steve Eke, also said by extending Dauda’s tenure, the president contravened the law as he lacked the legal power to do so.
Citing the case of the service chiefs who have over stayed in office, Eke said Buhari has been using his office as president to retain whomever he wants in office.
According to him, “Tenure of offices has been created by status or the law setting up the organisation and ordinarily you cannot go beyond what the law stated.
“So to that extent he doesn’t have the power, but if you look at what has happened to service chiefs, it is the same thing.
“The man is using his office as president to do this extension but the constitution says this people are due for retirement and you retain them or extend their tenure without amending that particular law that states the limit of their offices is clearly unlawful, illegal, it is not supposed to be so.”
However, he added that if Buhari wants to retain the services of Daura, he could offer him a political appointment after his retirement.
“But as for his tenure as a police officer if he has attained 35 years or the mandatory retirement age he must go, you cannot stretch his tenure created by law,” he said.
According to him, the retention of the boss of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, is currently a subject of litigation, which if judgment is entered against him, he can be forced to pay all salaries and emoluments received during the period outside his tenure.
Similarly, another legal practitioner, Mr. Ifeanyichukwu Obasi-Nweze, aligned with the others on their submissions that the president does not have the power to extend the tenure of his chief personal security officer for the singular fact that Dauda is not a political appointee but a civil servant.
He said: “
“When you are in the civil service there is a time you get to and you must retire, but if it is an appointment it does not follow that process. “Once you get to 60 years of age or 35 years of service you must retire and the president does not have the power to extend it because the law says at that stage you must leave office.”