The Federal High Court in Awka, Anambra State has set aside its sack order on the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Usman Alkali Baba.
The court upheld the right of Alkali to fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution which was not guaranteed by the plaintiff in his application.
It said it was convinced by the depositions of the court bailiff that the IGP was not served the originating summons.
Justice Fatun Riman reversed the court’s earlier judgment following an application by IGP’s counsel, Abdullahi Abdulhakeem Ago, against a previous ruling in favour of a plaintiff, Okechukwu Nwafor.
The Federal High Court in Awka on May 19, 2023 declared that Usman Alkali Baba, is an illegal occupant of the office of IGP.
Justice Riman, who gave the order, said Baba’s continued stay in office was against the clear provisions of the Police Act, 2020, saying it is “unlawful and unconstitutional”.
The court made the order in its judgment in a suit marked FHC/AKW/CS/58/2023, filed by Okechukwu Nwafor, who claimed to be a tax payer.
But the IGP asked the court to set aside the judgment because the subject matter had been determined by another Federal High Court presided over by Justice J.K. Omotosho in suit FHC/ABJ/CS/31/2023.
The police chief also alleged that the court should quash its judgment due to non-service of the originating processes on him.
The court upheld the arguments of the Inspector-General of Police in a 17-page ruling on June 15, 2023.
Justice Riman said a court can reverse its judgment where there was a fundamental error.
The judge said: “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.
“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.”