There were some heated moments in court on Wednesday as Justice Inyang Ekwo of Court 5 of the Federal High Court in Abuja stamped the jurisdiction of the court as the hearing in the case for an injunction brought against the Nigeria Police by the Police Service Commission (PSC) in respect of the recruitment of 10, 000 constables began.
The PSC in a matter with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1120/19 had dragged the Nigeria Police Force, the Inspector General of Police and the Minister of Police Affairs as first, second and third respondents respectively to the court.
The PSC sought an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants, their officers and representatives including anybody or person acting on their behalf from appointing, recruiting or attempting to appoint or recruit by any means whatsoever any person into any office in the first defendant pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
The Nigeria Police in its verified Twitter handle @PoliceNG had last week announced that members of the general public, particularly candidates who participated in the recruitment exercise were advised to note that the final list of successful candidates will be released only after the receipt of the Recruitment Report and final vetting of the list by the Inspector General of Police.
The court on Wednesday urged that all parties should stay within the bounds of the law until the matter is decided.
When the matter came up for hearing, Counsel to the three defendants, Dr Alex Izinyon SAN sought to join the Attorney General of the Federation as fourth defendant in the matter, to which the lawyer to the PSC, Kanu Agabi SAN agreed and Justice Ekwo adopted.
Ekwo had gone ahead to give the plaintiff four days from the date of the order to amend, file and service the processes and the first to third defendants another four days upon service by the plaintiff to amend file and serve their processes.
A November 4, 2019 date was agreed for the matter to resume.
Ekwo then told the senior lawyers that they represent the cream of the inner bar and since they had decided to submit the issues between them to the court, all parties must respect the rule of law and stay within bounds until the matter is decided.
“I need your assurance on that,” Ekwo had said.
But Izinyon had gone ahead to argue that the issue that brought the motion was the issue of recruitment, which has passed, as recruitment of the 10, 000 constables had been concluded by the Police.
“I am giving you between now and the fourth of November to return to court.
“Are you telling that between now and the fourth of November, you still need to go on with what you are doing?” Ekwo had queried.
Izinyon responded: “We have finished what we are doing, with the greatest respect. And with the greatest respect, the police service commission is aware.”
The argument got quite heated and Ekwo had to interject, “The case is not between you and me.”
The judge went ahead to say he gave all parties until November 4 to come back when the court will take a decision on which step to take next.
“You have submitted to the jurisdiction of the court. You stay within the jurisdiction of the court,” Ekwo said.
“We have completed what they came here to ask,” Iziyon responded.
“That is going to be determined at the end of the day. Parties should not go beyond where they are,” Ekwo replied.
Also speaking, Agabi said: “I have nothing more to add. Your Lordship has said it. What you said is obvious. We are before the court.
“Now my learned brother is saying they have already completed it. What an embarrassment it would be to the nation and to the police if this court should decide that whatever they were doing were illegalities. What an embarrassment.”
“That would be for the future. For today the matter is adjourned to 4thNovember, 2019,” the judge said.