Court Sets Aside Judgment Sacking IGP Usman Baba

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The Federal High Court sitting in Akwa-Ibom has set aside its judgment delivered On May 19, 2023, restraining the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, from parading himself as the office holder.

Justice Fatun Riman set aside the judgement on the ground that the Originating Processes in the suit filed by a journalist, Okechukwu Nwafor, were not served on the IGP.

The judge had, in the judgment, declared as unlawful and unconstitutional the continued stay in office of Baba, after attaining the statutory age of retirement, holding that it is a clear violation of the provisions of the Police Act, 2020

The court had also ordered former President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a meeting of the Nigeria Police Council to appoint a new Inspector General of Police who will occupy the office for four years.

It will be recalled that Buhari had, in January 2023, extended the tenure of Baba even though he clocked 60 on March 1, 2023.

Dissatisfied with the verdict, the IGP approached the court, seeking an order setting aside the judgement because he was not served with the originating Processes.

The IGP also sought an order setting aside the judgment on the grounds that Justice Josephine Omotosho had determined the subject matter of the suit and the issues raised therein.

Baba had also argued that a party might apply to the court to set aside its judgment if any of the following elements taint the judgment; fraud, non-service and lack of jurisdiction by the court.

He also submitted that the right to a fair hearing is a guaranteed constitutional right inherent in the person of every Nigerian citizen, relying on section 36 (1) of the 1999 Constitution.

But the plaintiff urged the court to dismiss the application for lacking in merit and that the reliefs sought by Baba were academic because the need for personal service was dispensed with when the court granted him leave to serve all processes on the second defendant through substituted means.

He also argued that the court is not bound by a judgment or the decision of a court of coordinate jurisdiction, which was not made on merit and did not also involve the plaintiff in this suit.

In his ruling, Justice Riman held that “it is glaring that the depositions of the bailiff affidavits of non-service did not prove or show that the Originating processes were served on the second Defendant/Applicant.

“Having resolved issue one of the second Defendant/Applicant on non-service of the originating summons, it is my view considering issue two becomes mere academic; I find merit in this application.

“Accordingly, the Judgment of this court delivered on the 19th day of May 2023 is set aside for nonservice of the originating processes on the second Defendant/Applicant. This is the Ruling of this Court,” the judge held.

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