Reforms: NASS to block police chiefs as PSC chair

The National Assembly is set to effect structural changes in the Police Service Commission (PSC), which would, among others, shut out retired Inspectors General of Police from heading the Commission.

This is part of proposed repeal of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act of 2001 to further make provisions for the composition and management of the PSC and related matters.

The new law comes against the backdrop of recent agitation by Nigerians for reforms of the police, especially the Special Anti-Robbery Squad Department (SARS) with protests rocking  cities across the country.

For holistic reform of the police, the National Assembly is tinkering with the PSC Act, by drafting a new legislation which would now shut out retired IGPs from chairing the PSC.

The new PSC legislation, it was learnt, limits the tenure of the chairman to  just one term of five years and the candidate must not be older than 55 years. It also states that the PSC chairman must not also be a card-carrying member of any political party at the time of his appointment or for the five years preceding the appointment.

Membership of the commission shall comprise a woman with experience working in the area of sexual harassment and gender-based violence; youths, being a person not more than 35 years of age at the time of appointment and a member in good standing of a recognised profession,retired police officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police, retired justice of either the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court of Nigeria and a representative each of the National Human Rights Commission, Nigerian Bar Association, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and civil society organisations.

In the new law, PSC offices would now be set up in all 36 states of the federation, unlike the extant provision where the Commission is domiciled in the Federal Capital Territory (Abuja) which makes dispensation of justice cumbersome.

“Cases against a serving officer will start from the state and must be concluded within six months from where it gets to the headquarters for prosecution, if found culpable. In addition, the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and youths, among others, would have representation on the new PSC board.”

In the proposed legislation sighted by Daily Sun, new recruits into the police, if approved, must possess Ordinary National Diploma (OND) rather than the old requirement of primary school leaving certificate.In a radical departure from the norm, any police officer who is being investigated for any misdemeanour would be suspended pending when the investigation is concluded.

“The Commission shall provide regulations from time to time, stipulating the procedure for recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy. The Commission shall ensure that those regulations stipulate the following minimum qualifications for recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigerian Police Academy –an Ordinary National Diploma (OND); Nigerian citizen with no records of criminal conviction, have met medical standard entry requirements,including psychological and mental health requirements. The Commission shall also ensure that the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy is in accordance with the provisions on national spread and Federal Character in the constitution.

“Where a complaint against a police officer is laid before the Police Complaints Response Unit at a police station or division, the Desk Officer who takes the complaint shall immediately provide a report of the complaint, including all witness statements to the nearest State Office of the Police Service Commission from where the incident took place. Where the state office determines that the facts of the complaint are sufficient to warrant an investigation, the state coordinator shall inform the commanding officer of the division or command,” the new law states. – The Sun.

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