The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has called for the unbundling of the Police Service Commission (PSC) following its lack of capacity to fulfill its mandate.
The Executive Director, RULAAC, Mr. Okechukwu Nwanguma who made this call in a statement in Lagos on Monday said that the call became necessary as it appeared that the PSC had been overwhelmed by its multi-pronged potentially powerful mandates of appointment, promotion, discipline and policy formulation for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
Nwanguma noted that “Since it appears not to be interested in or lacks the capacity to fulfill its disciplinary mandate, that mandate should be transferred to the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) which is also a public complaints mechanism with offices in all the Local Government Headquarters across the country.”
He observed that the standoff between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and successive Inspectors General (IG) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) over which of the institutions had the powers to recruit police officers had been long drawn as it resurfaces again and again whenever recruitment into the NPF came up adding that it resurfaced again this time with the recent directive by President Muhammadu Buhari for the recruitment of 10,000 police officers to boost the personnel (manpower) strength of the Nigeria police.
“As in the past, the PSC and the office of the IGP began to bicker over who has the powers to recruit. They both claim the powers. However, the bickering this time has assumed a more intensely rancorous dimension.
“While presenting the annual report of the Commission to the Presidency about two weeks ago, the matter came up and the President urged the two to work in synergy. He made no reference to the laws establishing any of the two institutions but asked the PSC to ‘go and put the police in order’.
“The current Honourable Attorney General of the Federation recently rendered a legal opinion wherein he reiterated the earlier opinion by his predecessor on the same issue in contention. His opinion essentially was that the Police has the power to recruit while the PSC appoints those recruited by the police. He then urged them to work in synergy.
“But these have not laid the matter to rest. The PSC had, apparently goaded by the President’s admonition, that it should ‘go and put the police in order’, ordered a suspension of the recruitment process pending the resolution of the crisis. However, the IGP ignored this directive and went ahead with the process.
“The PSC issued a query to the DIG in charge of Training and Development Yakubu Jibrin for alleged misconduct namely, releasing names of successful candidates and inviting them to appear for medical screening without the PSC’s permission
“Reports quote the IG to have written back to the PSC telling the commission that it has no powers to query the DIGs and that the DIGs are not under PSC control. But is the IGP’s position consistent with the PSC Act 2000 or any other law?” he said.
He recalled that while there were controversies arising from conflicting interpretations of the powers of the Commission, Section 6 of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act, provides as follows:
“6. (1) The Commission shall-
(a) Be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force
(b) Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over Persons (other than the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force;
(c) Formulate polices and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigeria Police Force;
(d) Identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Nigeria Police Force;
(e) Formulate and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline to the Nigeria Police Force;
(f) Perform such other functions which in. the opinion of the Commission are required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force ; and
(g) Carry out such other functions as the President may, from time to time, direct”.
He pointed out that it was clear that Section 6 (1) (a) and (b) granted the Commission the power to recruit, promote and discipline officers, other than the Inspector General of the Police saying that the section preserved the common law doctrine of hire and fire.
“The intent of the drafters of the Act is clear; it doesn’t need the adumbration of the AGF or the court. However, it will be important we have judicial clarity to put an end to the controversies over the powers of the Commission as preserved by Section 6 of the Police Service Commission (Establishment) Act, 2001. Of course, this standoff has stalled recruitment, promotions and retirements in the police”, he said.
The Executive Director recalled that the IGP wrote the Commission, demanding that the Commissioners return the SUVs given to them by former IGP Idris Kpotun ostensibly to assist them in their functions of oversight of the police.
He said, “Considering the gross funding deficits in the police, should the police be donating vehicles to the PSC Commissioners? Being the body mandated by law to oversight the police, is it ethical for the PSC to receive gifts or donations from the police?
“As a parastatal established by law, like the police, does the PSC not have budget for purchase of official vehicles? Is this not even made worse considering that the tenure of the immediate past IGP who made the donation was marked by controversies and allegations of corruption and partisanship?
“The PSC has never taken its disciplinary and policy formulation mandates seriously. It focuses on recruitment and promotions, which have always been marred by complaints of irregularities and corruption, with consequent deep seated disenchantment and demoralization among police officers who allege being shortchanged in the process. Allegation of recruitment scam, selling of promotions to the highest bidder, and irregularities in postings was worse under Mike Okiro.
“During the current controversial recruitment, we have also heard allegations of circumventing the recruitment procedure and disregard of established procedures and guidelines. Extraneous names are allegedly smuggled into the official list. Lists are also said to come from various political interests who influence the inclusion of names of their candidates into the official recruitment list, enabling criminals and misfits to find their way into the police with dire consequences for the image and efficiency of the police.
“Since legal opinions from two AGs have not been able to resolve this perennial conflict between the police and the PSC, I think there is then the need for a judicial interpretation of the powers of the police and the PSC vis a vis recruitment and appointment.”
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