By Suleiman Umaru
For years there had been an unpronounced cold war between the Police Service Commission , PSC, and the Nigerian Police Force, NPF. This is because the NPF Authorities had involved itself with the recruitment of new personnel into the Force, regarded as the Constitutional responsibility of the PSC. Past Chairmen of the Commission may have overlooked the action of the NPF Authorities in taking over its Constitutional responsibility of the Commission to recruit new personnel into the Force, without going through the Commission to avoid washing their dirty linen in the public.
Recall that the last time the police had a clash of interest with the PPSC was in 2010, during the Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The situation was so bad that that the matter was brought before Mohammed Adoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, and then minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation in order for him to resolve it legally but that was how they could go. A source in the ministry of Justice informed The Value News that Adoke could not stand his foot down as the country’s Chief Law Officer to give them the correct interpretation of the Law on the matter on who has the powers to recruit into the Force.
Many believe that If the minister had adopted the interpretation of Bayo Ojo, a SAN and a one-time minister of Justice and the AGF, on the matter, the crisis could not have become a recurring decimal in the country. The then minister of Justice and AGF, was said to have written the Commission stating that clearly that the power to recruit into the Force is their Constitutional responsibility. It is not surprising why security watchers believe that the refusal of then Jonathan minister of Justice and AFC, to tell the NPF, that it is their duty to recruit new personnel into the Force that may have given past and present IGPs powers to go ahead and recruit new personnel into the Force.
Indeed, this may have encouraged Muhammed Abubakar Adamu, the IGP, to allegedly recruit 10,000 Candidates into the Constable cadre of the Force. The list of the Candidates who were scheduled for training after the recruitment exercise which had been released by the Force, were said to have been described as an ’’ act of illegality and a serious act of breach of breach of Federal Character by the Commission’’ .
Perhaps to show that the NPF , has no powers to recruit new police personnel, the Commission had urged the general public to be ‘’wary of such list flying about in police circles.’’ . Smith, the PSC Chairman, was said to have made it clear to those that cares to listen that the Commission will soon resume the remaining stages of the recruitment process and release what it described as the ‘’authentic list of successful Candidates, local government by local government’’.
The PSC hard line position on the Police Recruitment Exercise,may have sent a signal to Adamu , the IGP, and his men, that it is no longer going to be business as usual for any IGP, to take over the Constitutional responsibilities of the PSC.
As a prelude to getting to stopping the excesses of the police, the Commission was said to have dragged the IGP and the NPF, to Court for hijacking its Constitutional powers to recruit new personnel into the Force .This is where Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, who is incidentally the minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to step into the matter to avoid creating a serious Constitutional crisis between the PSC and BPF over Police recruitment.
Austin Braimoh, a member of the Commission, representing the media Community, may have spoken the mind of the other members of the Commission when he said that ‘’it is not the business of the Force to recruit new police personnel’’, noting that ‘’ it is a Constitutional issue’’. Given an insider information, he disclosed that what the Force Authorities had cashed on the Police Regulations of 1945, which they claimed had not been repealed by the National Assembly.
According to him, the PSC, derives its powers from the Police Council, PC, Headed by President Muhammadu Buhari and comprising of the 36 state governors of the Federation. Note that it is the only the Council that has the Powers to recruit and promote police personnel as well as superintend over the NPF, but such powers were said to have been transferred to the Commission to handle since it was established.
Braimoh, who could not hide his feelings noted that with the establishment of the PSC, the Police Authorities should have known that all the powers have been taken away., even from the Council.
The Media Representative in the PSC, alluded that the Commission would not on its own go ahead with the recruitment of new personnel into the Force, without the approval of the Presidency. ‘’ We seek approval from the Presidency on the number of Officers and Constables to be recruited for budgetary reasons’ based on the demand of the IGP who need the men,’’’, he had said.
Insiders told The Value News that the Commission would not send such letters asking for approval for recruitment of new personnel into the Force to the Presidency without the support of IGP to do so.
Security watchers believe that there ought not to be any conflict of interest between the PSC the Force Authorities and the PSC, because there is no way the IGP would inform the Commission that the police are short of men and the need to apply to the Presidency for a certain number of policemen both at the officers and Constable Cadre and it would be ignored .
Only recently, the Commission under the close watch of of Musliu Smith, and who incidentally was a former IGP, had engaged the services of 6,000 Nigerians into the Force at various levels on orders of the Katsina state state born Nigerian President.. The recruitment exercise was said to have been done in Collaboration with the Force Authorities. That much was confirmed by a top official of the Commission. ‘‘When we get the Presidential approval based on the letter sent to the Presidency to recruit personnel into the Force’’, the official said the Commission goes the extra mile of inviting the IGP to join in drawing up the plan on how the recruitment exercise may be carried out.
Although, it is the Constitutional responsibility of the Commission to do it alone, but it has been jointly conducted over the years as to avoid Complaints of recruiting the wrong Candidates into the Force. The Constitution is clear on police recruitment: ‘’The PSC shall appoint Officers into the NPF from Constables to DIGs’’. It is only the IGP that may be appointed by the President, the Constitution says.
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