- Says you can’t ‘ask a thief to catch a thief’
- Recommends appointment of only civilians as PSC chief
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Thursday x-rayed the idea of appointing ex-police chiefs to head the Police Service Commission and concluded that it should not be, saying appointing an ex-police chief to the position of the chairman of the PSC is akin to asking a thief to police a thief.
He then recommended that a strong willed civilian should be made to head the PSC.
He stated this while delivering his remarks at the public presentation of the book, ‘Policing The Nigeria Police,’ written by the first appointed chairperson of the PSC, Simon Okeke, in Abuja.
The Senate had recently confirmed the appointment of a former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase (rtd.) as the new Chairman of the PSC, following his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Arase will take over the leadership of the commission from the acting chairman, Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court.
Ogunbiyi replaced the former chairman, Musiliu Smith, who resigned in September 2022, on the grounds of ill health.
In what appears to be a thumbs down for the Police, Obasanjo, who was the chairperson of the occasion, said “The police must be policed by a strong civilian peoples’ community, not police being policed by the police. If that is addressed, I believe we will get better police than we have today.
“This is because there are jealousies and biases within the police, and therefore when you make a retired policeman the head of the commission it is like asking a thief to catch a thief. Those jealousies and biases will come to the fore.”
Obasanjo said the mandate of the PSC is well spelt out in the Police Act of 2001 and the same Act described the functions of the IG.
While speaking, Obasanjo noted that the book did not only chronicle the experiences of Okeke while heading the commission but highlighted the challenges as well as the root causes of the rift between the authorities of the Nigerian Police and the PSC.
According to him, the current issues of the PSC which have resulted in the recurring reluctance of past and present Inspectors General of Police not to accept the oversight role of the commission are rooted in the appointment of former police personnel to head the commission.
He said, “From the book, and of course as president, I cannot say I do not know some of these Acts. The IGs tend to want to take more than their mandate allows them to take.
“The headship of the commission, I believe, must be a civilian, not a retired police officer. A retired Police officer should be a member of the commission, not the head,” he stated.
The former president, however, noted that the PSC is saddled with enormous powers and oversight over the Nigeria Police, and there was a need to address issues affecting it.
Speaking on Nigeria’s federal structure, Obasanjo said, “I believe Nigeria by our structure of federalism should not have one and unitary police establishment. It is contrary to the idea of federalism.”
He also rejected the description of the Police as a Force, saying, “I believe the police should be a Police Service and not a Police Force.”
Obasanjo further recommended the training and retraining of police professionals while condemning the use of officers to protect independent individuals in the country, both authorised and none authorised.
“This has led to out of 380,000 officers, 180,000 are on private duties carrying out duties corruptively,” he said.
There has been power tussle between the office Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission over functions relating to recruitment, appointment, transfer, and promotion of officers over the years.
A member of the Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress, Omogbolahan Babawale, recently faulted the appointment of Arase as the new PSC chairman while still being a card carrying member of the People’s Democratic Party.
Disclosing this in a petition addressed to Abdulahi Adamu, the APC National chairman, Omogbolahan, the Convener, The Think-Tinubu Initiative (3TI), recalled that Arase was the chairman of the sub-committee for the PDP Convention that took place last year.
Wondering why the president couldn’t find a non-partisan retired officer to nominate for the position, rather than a ‘PDP bigwig’, he berated the speed at which the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan approved Arase’s appointment for the position while demanding an explanation for the move
Omogbolahan’s petition titled, “There May Be Fire On The Mountain, Let Every ‘Leg’ Run” read in part, “The former Inspector General of Police, Solomon Arase has just been appointed Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC). Perhaps, the leadership of both Senate and The Presidency may not be aware that former IGP Solomon Arase is a card-carrying member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP). As a matter of fact, he was the Chairman, Security Sub-Committee of the PDP Convention held on October 30 and 31, 2021. Today, he is the new Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC) under an APC government. The PSC is the only agency constitutionally with the responsibility of transferring service police officers, the Commissioners of Police.”
“Arase is from Agenebode area of Edo State, the same village the Chairman, Atiku Technical Committee for the 2023 election and owner of AIT/RayPower, High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi hails from. The Presidency did not see any non-partisan retired police officer, if not anyone with a soft spot for the APC to appoint except a known PDP bigwig. I thought President Muhammadu Buhari said he wanted to leave a lasting legacy on the electoral process. Is it by appointing a PDP diehard this can be achieved? Fingers crossed!
“I am not insinuating anything o, but why the Senate President, Senator Ahmad Lawan hurriedly ‘endorsed’ the appointment of Arase in less than 48 hours, a known PDP member leaves much to be desired. I may be wrong but I challenge the leadership to provide any cogent apologia for this,” he queried.
According to him, the development was coming at a time when rumours of an alleged plot to scuttle the ambition of the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate Kashim Shettima was getting rife, as he hoped there wasn’t an internal sabotage playing out.
“There’s no doubt of the fact that transferring police commissioners during election period is idiosyncratic of the Police Service Commission (PSC). However, the question is, ‘Why only Lagos and Ogun States?’ Oh, they are still rolling out others? Is it not flabbergasting, rather discombobulating this whole thing is happening at the same time there are insinuations there were possible plot of internal sabotage against the Party’s presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima Mustapha?
“Let’s hope there is nothing (internal sabotage) of such as we move into the last lap of the elections. I want to sincerely believe the relevant stakeholders within our Party hierarchy are watching the game as it is playing out already. Let’s remember that it will be foolhardy and a complete tommyrot to cry over a spilt milk.
“I hope we all ‘sojí’ (wake up), like the colloquial slang on the streets and act too quickly too,” he added further.