A Federal High Court in Abuja has declared unconstitutional the threat by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to seal the premises of companies employing private security.
Reiz Continental Hotel had, in 2019, filed a suit against the Ministry of Interior and the NSCDC over a letter titled: “Illegal operation of unlicensed security companies”, in which NSCDC accused the hotel, which maintains security staff in its premises, of contravening Section 23 of the Private Guard Companies Regulations, 2018.
However, in the judgment, Justice Taiwo Taiwo held that Section 23 of the Private Guards Companies Regulation, 2018, was contrary to Sections 1(1), 35 and 36(3) of the Private Guard Companies Act and Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) “and to the extent of that inconsistency is ultra vires, null and void.”
The NSCDC had, in the letter, ordered the hotel to within two weeks sack its employees and engage the services of a private security guard company to secure its private property.
But Counsel to the hotel, Kalu Umeh (SAN), had in filing the action, argued that the primary business of the hotel was hospitality and not private security business, and that therefore the regulation could not apply to it.
The court agreed with the counsel that the intention of the legislature in drafting the Private Security Guard Companies Act was the regulation of the operations of private security guard companies.
The court went further to hold that Section 23 of the 2018 regulations was not within the contemplation of the Act of the National Assembly with respect to the Private Security Guard Companies Act.
It further held that the Minister of Interior, in the exercise of his powers under Section 35 of the act, does not have the power under the 1999 Constitution (as amended) to expand the scope of the act to include any person or corporate organisation which does not operate as a private security guard company.
Reacting, Umeh said the judgment was a bold intervention by the judiciary to check the excesses of some government agencies, and that if the NSCDC had succeeded in sealing Reiz Continental Hotel and indeed other hotels and business enterprises in the country as threatened, it would have gone a long way in stifling private businesses which employed more than 50 per cent of the workforce in the country.