Dispute caused by brazen nepotism – Insiders
Police boss accused of trampling on Constitution
President Buhari must call IGP to order – PSC’s lawyer
Strike illegal, will cause more harm at this time – Legal practitioners
BY AUGUSTINE AVWODE, BENEDICT NWACHUKWU, TIMOTHY AGBOR AND MAYOWA SAMUEL
The need to ensure compliance with Constitutional provisions on ethnic balancing in the face of an orchestrated plan to ride roughshod over same, the utter disdain and disregard for the Constitution of the country, coupled with a seemly unperturbed presidential attitude are jointly responsible for the endless recruitment tussle between the Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission, The Point has learnt.
There has been a protracted struggle between the IGP and the PSC in the administration of the Police Force. The rift is presently affecting the recruitment of personnel into the Nigeria Police Force.
In 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the recruitment of 60,000 police constables yearly. Only 10,000 men have been recruited in the last four years.
The IGP and the PSC have laid claims to their constitutional powers to conduct the recruitment exercise for the police.
The workers’ union in the PSC has resolved to begin an indefinite strike today (Monday), August 29, to press home their demands.
The needless bickering between the IGP and the PSC no doubt has grave consequences for national security. Curiously, however, no single ice-breaking intervention can be linked to President Buhari as Chairman of the Police Council.
Human rights lawyer, Ken Eluma Asogwa, who is also the solicitor to the Police Service Commission, told The Point in an exclusive chat at the weekend that the refusal by relevant authorities to observe clear provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria “as it relates to the extant case is to blame.”
“The law is very clear here. The federal character is provided for in Section 14, subsection 3 of the Constitution and what the federal character says is that in making appointments into Federal Government offices, there should be recourse to the federal character and what this simply means is that you should respect the sensitivity of Nigeria by balancing whatever appointment you are making.
“In short, Section 14(3) says the composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies. Now, I am part of this issue that is brewing between the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police. There is a clear case of one agency trying to usurp the powers of another.”
“The Chairman then wrote to the IG to say look, you need to respect the federal character that says that when you want to hire, make sure it reflects the balancing of the federal character. IG wrote back to him to say that what determines the promotion by the Nigeria Police is competence and not federal character”
Asogwa said Nigerians might not know because a lot of the dramatis personae were refusing to say it.
Claiming to be an independent person, he revealed what transpired in a recent promotion exercise in the Force in which a section of the country was completely left out. This, he said, violently breached the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic.
“I’m an independent man and I can tell you what is going on. The Police Service Commission made some promotions very recently. This thing began sometime in July when the Police Service Commission promoted some officers from the rank of DCP to the rank of Commissioners of Police and to AIG and DIG. Now, when they finished this promotion, they left out five DCPs (Deputy Commissioners of Police) who are from one section of the country and promoted some DCPs even to the rank of AIGs.
“Now, a Commissioner in the Police Service Commission wrote to the Chairman of the Commission to draw his attention to the fact that they left out a whole region without anybody being represented in the promotion. The Chairman then wrote to the IG to say, look, you need to respect the federal character that says that when you want to hire, make sure it reflects the balancing of the federal character. IG wrote back to him to say that what determines the promotion by the Nigeria Police is competence and not federal character.
“Federal character is a provision of the Constitution. IG said that it was competence. Meanwhile, the IG’s letter was written by the Force Secretary, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, who wrote on behalf of the IG, as the Force Secretary to say that the five officers who were not promoted, the Police Service Commission was trying to promote them far and above their ranks. Meanwhile, the AIG that wrote this letter to the Police Service Commission was a classmate of the five persons who were still trapped in the rank of DCP while he himself is already an AIG. So, this thing is not as straightforward as people are thinking but a lot of the people who are inside there might not be able to comment in the media because they are afraid, and I have to tell you.”
‘BUHARI COMPLICIT, SHOULD INTERVENE’
The human right activist called on the President to urgently intervene by telling the IGP to respect the laws of the land.
He alleged that the President, as the Chairman of the Council, had in the past shown that he was not worried or disturbed by a similar brazen act. That, he argued, might have emboldened today’s actors to do things that were clearly at variance with the Constitution.
He said, “The President should use his powers as the Chairman of the Police Council to call the IG to order. The only thing he needs to do is to tell the IG to respect the laws of the land, simple.
“When a similar case happened under the immediate past IG, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the President didn’t do anything about it. Would you be surprised if he once again doesn’t wade into this matter?
“It is the ambivalence of Mr. President that emboldened the former IG and it is the same that is emboldening the current IG to continue in this illegality because if the President had spoken, nobody would take the words of Mr. President for granted. It is just because we live in a country where institutions don’t work.
“Do we even need Mr. President to come out and read out the riot act before someone obeys the law? Do we even need that to happen before someone understands that he needs to obey the law? As a lawyer, I need to speak with evidence. If I don’t have evidence that Mr. President is complicit in this, then I don’t need to start accusing him unnecessarily but like I said, his ambivalence allowed this to fester, he’s being lethargic about it. So, whether he is complicit or not is not for me to define, it’s for Nigerians to look at it.”
A United Kingdom-based Nigerian lawyer, Kelvin Omojine, noted, “The last I know is that the Federal High Court said it was the duty of the IGP to recruit, while the Court of Appeal said it was the duty of the PSC. I believe the case is now at the Supreme Court, that is what will ultimately determine it.”
He added that the two principal bodies should rather find a meeting point to work together than jostle to have ownership of personnel recruitment.
Omojine argued that the most essential thing about their existence was to safeguard lives and property, not to fight over positions and who recruits the personnel into the Force.
He also noted that while the two bodies tried to settle the matter in Court, the National Assembly could also assist by way of legislation.
Disturbed by the impasse, another lawyer, Ihekoro Iroanya, said the squabbles between the two governing bodies of the Police had forced them to undermine their constitutional duty of protecting the lives and property of citizens.
The legal luminary tasked the heads of the two bodies to shun self and quest for power and authority and work as compatibles to achieve success in their area of primary responsibility.
“The Police, whether led by the Police Service Commission or the Inspector General of Police (I mean the office, not the individual) or jointly led, should realise that what Nigerians need from them is safety. The ordinary citizens who depend on them for the protection of their lives and property are not interested in who handles the recruitment of personnel or not.
“It’s absurd that at a time the country is enmeshed in insecurity, the Police heads are busy fighting over frivolities of who has the right to recruit personnel. I can’t understand. Imagine the President instructing that 60,000 police constables be recruited every year but records show that only 10,000, if I am correct, have been recruited in the last four years. They even undermined the President’s order,” he said.
Iroanya further argued that the threat by the Commission’s staff to embark on strike from Monday was even a pointer that there was more attached to the fight over who handles the recruitment than what the ordinary Nigerians who are being denied their statutory right to safety and protection by the state could see.
“Now, by Monday the staff of PSC will embark on strike. For the past six months or more, ASUU has been on strike; so many bodies are on strike. Now, if the Police join in this period of insecurity ravaging the country, then imagine what would become of Nigeria. This is the time for all hands to be on deck to provide solutions,” he noted.
NASS SHOULD AMEND POLICE ACT
Yet another legal practitioner, Abiodun Williams, urged the National Assembly to look into the Police Act with a view to amending it so that it would accommodate harmonious dealings between the office of the IGP and PSC on the issue of police recruitment, adding that should both work in synergy, the police and the nation’s security would be better for it.
Contrary to the belief in some quarters that the PSC’s strike wouldn’t affect the nation’s security, Williams said those embarking on strike were not civilians and that they were former police top brass who knew the workings of the force.
According to him, their going on strike should not be taken for granted in the interest of the nation’s security.
While maintaining that the strike was illegal, he said, “First of all, the strike is illegal. Under the Labour Law, there are some categories of workers that should provide essential services and they are prohibited under the law from going on strike. Among these is any security apparatus of the country, be it the Army, DSS, the Police or others. They are prohibited under the Labour Act from embarking on strike. So, that’s the illegality or otherwise of their strike.
“With this illegal strike they want to embark upon, I am calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene because he is the head of the country and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. So, this is where he should use his presidential power and come in.”
Also speaking, another legal practitioner, Lekan Alabi, called on President Buhari to stop PSC from embarking on strike, stressing that criminals would be emboldened to torment the country.
The human rights lawyer said the strike would lead to “unimaginable security lapses.”
He said, “The issue has been on for a while now and I want to believe they are going to court on that matter. But, President Muhammadu Buhari, the Chairman of that Police Council, should quickly, as a matter of urgency, intervene, particularly with the level of insecurity in this country.
“The strike shouldn’t be allowed to happen because it will lead to unimaginable security lapses. The bandits and other criminal elements will have more boldness. The security of the country is very fragile now, so, I want President Muhammadu Buhari to step in and do something drastic about it. The issue is becoming one too many.”
“The strike shouldn’t be allowed to happen because it will lead to unimaginable security lapses. The bandits and other criminal elements will have more boldness. The security of the country is very fragile now, so, I want President Muhammadu Buhari to step in and do something drastic about it. The issue is becoming one too many”
A security expert, Amitolu Shittu, urged President Buhari to be proactive on issues relating to security in order to avoid a repeat of #ENDSARS saga.
Shittu explained the need for the President to invite PSC and IGP to a roundtable discussion, adding that the President’s silence on salient security matters was like issuing blank cheques to criminal elements.
‘STRUGGLE SELFISH, NOT ABOUT PATRIOTISM’
Emma Okah, lawyer, politician, and a three-time commissioner in Rivers State, argued that there was no aspect of the Nigerian national life that had not been afflicted one way or another.
He blamed President Buhari for allowing the situation to degenerate to this level, arguing that the struggle between the two agencies of government was not driven by patriotism but selfishness.
“This state of oddity in nearly every aspect of our national life is a reflection of the magnitude of the damage the APC-led Federal Government has inflicted on the nation.
“The constant and intractable struggle between the PSC and the office of the IGP is not a struggle for patriotism and selflessness. It is purely one for ethnic dominion, religious superiority and regional egocentric complexes that have not helped Nigeria in any way.
“In this madness, who is the loser? It is Nigerians of course. While many competent youths are roaming the streets in search of jobs, the children of the rich occupy plum positions in public service. While ordinary Nigerians are left to provide protection for themselves, the politicians and economic vampires of Nigeria are mopping up available police manpower to protect themselves and their families.
“So you can see why the seeming struggle between these two departments can ensue without anyone, certainly not the Federal Government of Nigeria, caring who is in pain. Let me say for the umpteenth time that we are not ready to build a nation yet. Building a nation entails patriotism, selflessness and the love of others irrespective of myopic cleavage. When the time comes, when we shall be compelled to live apart or build a nation, it will be like a market day. It would need no announcement,” he stated.