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PSC/NPF Standoff Over Powers Of Police Recruitment & Other Matters Arising

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Standoff between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and successive Inspectors General (IG) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) over which of the institutions has the powers to recruit police officers has been long-drawn.

It resurfaces again and again whenever recruitment into the NPF comes up. It resurfaced again this time with the recent directive by the President 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 AIG 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?

Of course, this standoff has stalled recruitment, promotions and retirements in the police.

IG further writes to 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

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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