There were some heated moments in Court 5 of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday as Justice Inyang Ekwo of Court 5 ordered that status quo be maintained over the police recruitment until the matter before the court is determined.
In the matter with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1120/19, the Police Service Commission 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.
On October 23, 2019, when the matter had come up for hearing, the court had urged that all parties should stay within the bounds of the law until the matter is decided.
Then, the lawyer to the three defendants, Dr Alex Izinyon SAN, had sought that the Attorney General of the Federation be joined in the suit as a fourth defendant, which was granted.
On that day, 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.
On October 24, 2019, the Nigeria Police released the names of successful candidates for the 2019 recruitment exercise.
A tweet on the Nigeria Police verified twitter handle @PoliceNG monitored by The Nation had read “LIST OF SUCCESSFUL CANDIDATES IN THE 2019 RECRUITMENT EXERCISE INTO THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE
“The IGP has vetted and given approval for the release of the final and authenticated list of successful candidates who participated in the ongoing recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Police Force. Below is the list of successful candidates: https://www.npf.gov.ng/information/index.php”
In the link, under general instructions, the successful candidates were asked to report at the Police Colleges/Training Schools indicated against their States.
On Monday, lawyer to the plaintiff, Barth Ogar Oluohu, said they had amended, filed and served their processes on the four defendants, as was directed by the court at the last sitting.
Oluohu said the court had in its last sitting directed that the status quo be maintained until the matter was determined by the court, but that the first respondent had gone ahead on the 24thof October, 2019 to release the names of candidates for the recruitment exercise despite the courts position.
Justice Ekwo had adjourned the matter to November 11 for hearing, saying preliminary objection would be taken with substantive matter on the date.
“The process of any party that is absent from the court on the next day of the court shall be deemed to have been adopted and the order for status quo remains,” Ekwo had said.
But Izinyon reacted, “With great respect My Lord, the last part of your order, that was the issue before Your Lordship at the last adjournment. I am surprised with great respect Your Lordship did not allow me to say a word before saying the order of status quo. There was no order my Lord with the greatest respect that Your Lordship had adjourned the matter.”
Ekwo had told that he should let the matter be heard. There was some argument and Izinyon insisted he be heard or he would withdraw from the case.
“Since Your Lordship don’t want to hear me. My learned friend was talking, Your Lordship didn’t stop him. I want to talk, Your Lordship asked me to stop. If Your Lordship doesn’t want to hear me, I will withdraw from this case. This is not all the cases. And before I could say a word, Your Lordship said I should wait and then the order. Your Lordship, what was the status quo, which as at that time was Your Lordship has said? I told Your Lordship the list had been released and your Lordship said we should stay where we are. If where we are was the status quo then, then what is my learned friend saying? With the greatest respect My Lord Sir. If Your Lordship is not palatable with my face appearing in this matter, I would withdraw by the next adjournment.”
Ekwo then dismissively said, “Call the next case.”