Court reverses order sacking IGP, says he wasn’t given fair hearing

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A federal high court in Awka, Anambra state, has set aside its order sacking Usman Baba from office as the inspector-general of police (IGP).

 

In a judgment delivered on May 14, Fatun Riman, the presiding judge, had ordered Baba to stop parading himself as Nigeria’s IGP.

 

Riman held that Baba’s continued stay in office after clocking the retirement age of 60 is illegal and unconstitutional.

 

The suit, marked FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, was filed by one Okechukwu Nwafor.

 

However, challenging the judgment, the IGP through his lawyer, submitted that he was not given a fair hearing as the plaintiff failed to serve him with the originating summons.

 

The IGP also claimed that the subject matter of the case had been determined by another federal high court in Abuja presided over by J.K. Omotosho in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2023.

 

In a ruling delivered on Thursday, Riman agreed with the submissions of the IGP

 

“The law is settled that any court of record, including the supreme court has the inherent jurisdiction to set aside its own judgment given in any proceeding in which there must have been a fundamental defect such as one which goes to the issue of jurisdiction and competence of the court,” the judge said.

 

“Such a judgment is a nullity. A person affected by it, is, therefore, entitled ex-debito justicae to have it set aside. The court can set it aside suo motu and the person affected may apply by motion and not necessarily by way of appeal.

 

“A judgment or order which is a nullity owing to failure to comply with an essential provision such as service of process can be set aside by the court which gave it or made the order.

 

“The law is trite that the necessity for the requirement of service of originating processes, whether personal or by substituted means to bring to the notice of the defendant in action knowledge of the pending of a suit against him to enable such defendant to prepare himself and defend the action appropriately.

 

“I find merit in this application. Accordingly, the judgment of this court delivered on the 19th day of May 2023 is hereby set aside for non-service of the originating processes on the 2nd Defendant (the inspector-general of police). This is the ruling of this court.”

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