PSC: Justice Ogunbiyi Gives Hope To NPF, Awards Punishment To Officers Over Alleged Misconduct

By  Stephen Ubanna

For officers and men of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, who think they can take the law into their hand in the discharge of their official duties now that a woman, Justice Clara Bata Ogunbiyi, is the acting Chairman, of the Police Service Commission, PSC, with the resignation of Musiliu Smith, a former Inspector of Police, IGP and the immediate past Chairman, would be disappointed.

This is because, Justice Ogunbiyi, who many believe is working closely with Usman Alkali Baba, the IGP, has  vowed tomaintain the disciplinary action which has remained the hallmark of the Commission over the years by showing the way out of the service to officers found wanting while reviewing the pending cases of disciplinary action before it.

Barely one month in office as the acting Chairman of  the PSC, Justice Ogunbiyi, described as a no nonsense member of the PSC, under Smith Team, before  her elevation to  the enviable position as acting Chairman, has been revered by Colleagues because of the tough position  she holds on matters concerning the Commission and the Force.

  She was said to have always advised  officers who have had the opportunity of coming in contact  with her to keep away from anything that could dent their image which may result in their being dismissed, sacked or given any other form of punishment by the Commission. She may have proved herself with recent dismissal of seven senior officers of the ranks of Superintendent and Chief Superintendent of Police, CSP, over alleged gross misconduct based on the recommendation of the Force, NPF, Authorities.

Ikechukwu Ani, the PSC, spokesperson, who had issued a Statement as regards to the disciplinary action that had been taken by the Commission in the recent time  had said that one CSP,  and a Superintendent of Police, SP, were sacked  while another  CSP, found guilty,  was reduced to the rank of Superintendent,  which may be  good for him . Two other Superintendents of Police were said to have been reduced to the rank of Deputy Superintendents, of Police, DSP, as well.

The PSC, disciplinary action was said to have been extended to officers on the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, as five of them were said to have been dismissed because  the weighty nature of their alleged offence. Four other ASPs, were said to have been reduced to the rank of Police Inspectors, as a deterrence to others that may want to indulge in such unlawful acts in the discharge of their duties.

In spite of the severe punishment that was said to have been meted out to the senior Police senior officers on the recommendations of the Police Management Team, based on the report of its disciplinary Committee, the Commission, which is saddled with the responsibility of recruitment, promotion and appointment and disciplinary action of officers, may have tampered Justice with mercy as  it was said to have ‘’reprimanded’’ ten other senior officers including an ACP.

There are indications that five ASPs, were, awarded severe reprimand but 13 , received the punishment of reprimand , two others, were said to have been penciled down  receive  letters of warning  while four  officers, whose case were said to have been  addressed  were during the Commission plenary were said to have been  ‘’exonerated’’ for lack of substantial evidence to  award punishment to them.  

The Justice Ogunbiyi led Commission was said to have also approved the reduction in rank of ten other senior officers.  Ani, the PSC, spokesperson, had aid that ‘’the decisions were taken at the plenary meeting of the Commission on Thursday, October 6, 2022.

More worrisome for the dismissed and sacked offices, particular, was the fact that they may lose all their severance package and other entitlements from the service. Given the punishment that had been meted out to the senior officers over alleged gross misconduct. 

 Analysts had said  that the ten senior officers who were given a light punishment: reduction in rank, reprimanded or received Letters of warning and exonerated should  see it as a divine intervention, as they may not be lucky next time if their case should go to the Commission.

Baba: IGP

Unconfirmed report had said the Commission may not have looked at cases concerning the lower rung of the Police Force: Constables, Sergeants and Inspectors   because of the Conflict with the NPF Authorities.  Until Smith, the for PSC, Chairman, to pave way for Ogunbiyi to step into the shoes, there had been an unresolved disagreement between the Commission  and Baba, the IGP,  over which body should be responsible  for the recruitment , promotion, appointment and discipline  of these lower rung Police officers. Many believe that with the good working relationship between the Commission and the office of the IGP, the matter will be resolved amicably soon.  

Meanwhile,Justice Ogunbiyi, the PSC, acting Chairman,  had said that ‘’henceforth   the Commission would give  the desired attention  to pending disciplinary matters  so that those  found guilty  are punished immediately  while those found not wanting  would be  cleared  to continue with their career progression’’.Appealing to the officers ‘’to ensure that they operate within the established rules and avoid taking the laws into their hand, she had said that ‘’it is the only way to escape the PSC, award of punishment’’.

She may have gladdened the heart of the officers when she stated that ‘’the Commission will continue to sustain a professional Police Force that operates within  the established rules and regulations and  in conformity with international best practices’’.

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