Worried by public complains on non-adherence to Federal Character principle in the appointment of Service Chiefs, the Senate has begun moved to clip the powers of the President with a bill that would ensure security appointments is not concentrated in one zone.
The bill sponsored by Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe is tagged: “Armed Forces Service Commission and other related matter 2020.”
In the proposed bill which passed the first reading on the floor of the Red Chamber, the Senate said it seeks to ensure that no zone is left out in the appointment of service chiefs.
If the bill scales through, the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Director of Military Intelligence and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies shall be made subject to recommendations by the Armed Forces Service Commission which is saddled by the bill with the responsibility of ensuring that federal character principle is applied in the selection of the service chiefs.
“The Commission shall have the power and authority pursuant to section 219 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) to ensure that the composition/appointment of Service Chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Federation reflects federal character of Nigeria in the manner prescribed in section 217 (3) of the 1999 Constitution. The Commission shall ensure that the functions specified in section 217 of the 1999 Constitution and the powers exercisable by the President in the appointment of Service Chiefs and officers corps and other ranks of the Armed Forces in section 218 of the 1999 constitution reflects federal character. Where the number of available positions cannot go round the six geopolitical zones of the Federation, the distribution of appointments shall be done between equally between the North and South.”
“As from the date of commencement of this Act, the Commission shall have the power to recommend to the President from among the best and most qualified, most educated and most experienced members of the Armed Forces of the federation for appointment as (a) Chief of Defence Staff (b) Chief of Army Staff (c) Chief of Air Staff (d) Chief of Naval Staff (e) Director of Military intelligence; and heads of other arm-bearing security agencies and ensure that such appointments reflects the federal character principle of Nigeria,” the bill said.
It also empowered the commission with powers to recommend to the President the removal from office of the service chiefs and head of other security agencies on ground of misconduct, abuse of office, breach of any section of the Constitution, the Armed Forces Act or any other Act of the National Assembly. The Commission also has the power to approve promotion from among the best, most competent and qualified officers as heads of military formations/branches such as General Officers Commanding Divisions of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force.
“Subject to the provisions section 215 (1) and 216 (2) of the 1999 Constitution on the powers of the Nigerian Police Council to advise the President on the appointment of Inspector General of Police, and notwithstanding any other provision in any other law establishing any other security agency. The Commission shall have the power to recommend to the President from among the best and most qualified, most educated and most experienced officers of the Police, State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Office of the National Security Adviser(ONSA), and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Nigerian Custom Service, Nigerian Immigration Service and Nigerian Correctional Service, persons for appointment as Inspector General of Police, Director General of SSS, Director General NIA, Director General of ONSA, and Commandant General of NSCDC, Comptroller General of Customs, Comptroller General of Immigration, Comptroller General of Prisons, and Head of the Federal Fire Service.”
The proposed law further stated that “provided that in making such recommendations, the Commission shall take into cognisance the federal character principle and the geo-poilitical zones of the country that produced the four service chiefs provided in this section, and ensure that the heads of other security agencies provided in this sub section spread equitably among the six geo-political zones of the country.
“Notwithstanding the provision in any other law establishing the Armed Forces, Police and other security/para military agencies, commission shall supervise and approve upon certifying that federal character provided in this Act has been duly observed, all promotions in the Armed Forces of the federation, Police and other security and paramilitary and armed-bearing security agencies of the federation,” the bill recommended.