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Recruitment crisis: IG’s fight with police commission gets messier

The battle between the Nigeria Police Force leadership and the Police Service Commission is becoming messier as the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has told the PSC that it has no powers to query the Deputy Inspectors-General of Police.

Sunday PUNCH learnt on Saturday that the IG pointedly informed the PSC in a letter that the DIGs were not under its control, contrary to the Police Service Commission Establishment Act 2001.

Among other functions, the Act says the PSC “shall be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force; dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons (other than the IG) and formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigeria Police Force.”

Findings indicated that the IG’s letter was informed by the query issued by the PSC to the DIG in charge of Training and Development, Yakubu Jubrin, for alleged misconduct some weeks ago.

An impeccable source disclosed that Adamu responded to the query on behalf of Jubrin, stating that the commission could not issue queries to the DIG.

Following the police’s insistence on recruiting 10,000 constables on the grounds that it was their constitutional right the commission had queried Jubrin for releasing the names of successful candidates and inviting them for medical screening without its permission.

The source said, “Are you aware that we queried the DIG, Training and Development, for misconduct? Well, the IG responded on his behalf, saying the DIG was not under the commission and that he (DIG) was working on his (IG) instructions. The DIG was supposed to have retired from service on October 1, but we learnt that he is still coming to work in uniform.”

The official added, “The commission has frozen promotions and retirements in the police until the disagreement with the force is resolved. This means all retiring police officers cannot process their benefits because they have to obtain letters of retirement from the commission. Everything has stalled on account of this crisis and nobody in the government is saying anything.”

One of our correspondents also learnt that the IG had demanded the return of eight Toyota Prado Sport Utility Vehicles given the commission’s officials by a former IG, Ibrahim Idris.

It was learnt that the SUVs were given to the PSC Chairman, Musiliu Smith; the Permanent Secretary and the commissioners to assist them in their oversight functions of the police.

Adamu was said to have asked the commission to return the SUVs, which he said were police property. However, he exempted Smith and the commissioner representing the police on the PSC board, AIG Lawal Bawa (retd), from returning theirs.

Sunday PUNCH learnt that Bawa was President Muhammadu Buhari’s secondary school classmate.

Meanwhile, those expected to return their SUVs are retired Justice Clara Ogunbiyi (North-East), representing the judiciary; Mohammed Najatu (North-West), representing the women; and Braimoh Austin (South-South), representing the media community.

Others are Rommy Mom (North-Central), representing the human rights and civil society community; Nkemka Jombo-Ofo (South-East), representing organised labour; and the erstwhile Permanent Secretary of the commission, Maurice Mbaeri, who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Police Affairs.

One of our correspondents learnt that the commission had decided to return the SUVs, but the absence of the commission’s chairman, who is out of the country, was said to have stalled the move.

The ultimatum for the return of the vehicles expired on Friday.

A source said, “The IG has written to the commission to demand the return of the SUVs that were given to the commissioners by the immediate past IG, Ibrahim Idris, to assist them in their oversight functions.

“The Toyota Prado SUVs were donated to the PSC chairman, the six commissioners and the Permanent Secretary by the past police management team, but Adamu has demanded in a letter that the vehicles should be returned to the police and the ultimatum expired on Friday.”

Meanwhile, the retirement of three DIGs – Jubrin (Training and Development), Taiwo Lakanu (Logistics and Supply) and Godwin Nwobodo (Information and Communications Technology) – has created a vacuum in the police management team.

However, the PSC has yet to receive nominations for their replacement.

Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, could not be reached for comments on the replacement for the retiring DIGs and other developments on the recruitment crisis.

However, speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior police officer close to the IG stated that the PSC was fighting a losing battle, saying the force had the support of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), on the police recruitment.

The ranking police officer touted legal advice from the AGF endorsing the takeover of the recruitment process by the IG.

“There is no way the commission can win this battle, because the AGF supported the action taken so far by the police and he has also written strong legal advice in our favour.

“On the SUVs, the commission should not be sharing the little police resources by taking vehicles from us. Can they defend or justify their action?” the officer asked.

The PSC chairman recently stated that President Muhammadu Buhari had intervened in the dispute between the commission and the force over the recruitment of 10,000 constables. Smith said this at the presentation of the 2018 annual report of the commission to the President.

Commenting on the crisis, Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, said according to the law, the PSC was the employer of every police officer in the country and could exercise powers in relation to their employment, promotion and service development.

He said the scenario playing out between the two bodies was a manifestation of dysfunctionality in government.

Ogunye added that despite the constitutional provision stipulating that the IG was subject to the directive of the President, he remained a member of the force.

“Yes, we know that the IG under sections 214 and 215 of the constitution is subject to the directive of the President. But it does not mean he is no longer in the police over whom the PSC has authority.

“What the IG is saying is like a school principal saying he is the one who has the power to recruit teachers and not the teaching service commission,” he said.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Ebunoluwa Adegboruwa, said the PSC had the right to query any police officer apart from the IG. He added that the IG had no right to instruct the DIGs not to respond to any lawful directives given to them by the PSC.

Adegboruwa said, “Whatever query the PSC has given to the DIGs, they are entitled to respond to it. If they refuse to do so, whatever punishment or a disciplinary measure is taken against them, they will serve it under the constitution.

“The IG has no power whatsoever to reject or countermand or in any other way disrespect any lawful directive given by the PSC. It will amount to the rascality of the highest order for any IG to give a directive to any officer under him to disregard orders from the commission.”

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