Inexcusable crisis – The Nation

  • The President must stop the rivalry between PSC and NPF on recruitment

Apparently seeking to put an end to the perennial conflict between the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) under the headship of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Police Service Commission (PSC) as regards the powers of recruitment and promotion of police officers and men since the commencement of this political dispensation, the PSC in 2007 sought the legal clarification of the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on the matter.  A letter to the PSC from the office of the AGF on March 29, 2007, and signed by Pamela Ohabor, explicitly stated that “the powers of recruitment, dismissal and exercise of disciplinary control” in the force is vested in the PSC.

This advice was predicated on Section 30 of Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, which states that “The Commission shall have power to (a) appoint persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force and (b) to dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons holding any office in sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph”. It was thus in violation of this clear constitutional provision that the then IGP in 2002, Mr. Tafa Balogun, directly sought the approval of the presidency for the promotion and appointment of state commissioners of police without reference to the PSC. Balogun was directed on that occasion to route his request through the PSC in accordance with the constitution.

Surprisingly, the same problem recurred in 2008, when the IGP, Mr. Michael Okiro, again bypassed the PSC and presented a list of officers shortlisted for the positions of Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG)and Assistant Inspector- General of Police (AIG) for the direct authorisation of late President Umaru Yar’Adua. Again, he was referred to the PSC. Ironically, when Okiro later became Chairman of the PSC, the immediate past IGP, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, acting independently of the PSC, wrote the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Abba Kyari, seeking approval to promote some officers to the positions of DIG and AIG.

The present impasse between the NPF and the PSC on the recruitment of 10,000 new police constables shows that not only have no lessons been learnt from the past, the situation has been allowed to degenerate badly. After the PSC had almost completed the process of formalising the new appointments, the exercise was reportedly hijacked by the office of the IGP. New names were allegedly recruited into the original list which had not gone through the various stages of the recruitment process. Despite protests by the PSC, whose current chairman is a former IGP, Alhaji Musliu Smith, the NPF has reportedly gone ahead to release the unauthorised list of newly recruited constables and even given dates for them to appear for medical screening at various zonal police headquarters.

This is certainly the height of indiscipline and total disregard, both for the constitution and due process. It is thus not surprising that there have been allegations that the recruitment process has been tainted by corruption, with purported new recruits manipulating their names onto the list on the basis of considerations other than merit. The negative security implications of this development are grievous. There is the strong possibility that unqualified candidates and shady characters may be absorbed into a police force, which is already burdened with a serious credibility crisis as a result of the atrocities of some undisciplined and irresponsible officers and men.

We note that President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to ensure the immediate resolution of the crisis after meeting the Minister of Police Affairs, Mr. Muhammadu Dingyadi, and the IGP. This is a matter that calls for urgent and decisive action, given the dire security crisis confronting the country. It is important that the President puts a final end to the perennial and dysfunctional conflicts between the NPF and the PSC on roles, which are clearly stipulated in the constitution, by enforcing discipline and insisting on adherence to due process in the recruitment of the new constables and other recruitments into the police force, apart from the appointment of the IGP.

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