By Yinka Odumakin
MY good friend and brother, Senator Shehu Sani in siding with President Muhammadu Buhari recent opposition to State Police made a point that some governors would just give uniforms to their thugs if we allowed multi-level policing in Nigeria.
The President in an interview with VOA Hausa Service during his U.S visit predicated his reservations on two grounds: one, on the provisions of the 1999 Constitution which was initially designed for Abacha self-succession and the other on the poor financial standing of the states. “We must carefully look at the position of the nation’s constitution on the issue of state police before we take final decision on the matter; if the constitution allows state police, so be it. But don’t forget that many times the Federal Government gave out what we referred to as bailout to state governments for payment of workers’ salaries. How many states can pay salaries promptly? And you want to add more financial burden to the states? It is not proper to employ a person, train him in how to handle weapons and then refuse to pay him – you can imagine what would happen in such situation,” he said.
It would have been great to know from the President if the Federal Government would have been able to spend money like a drunken sailor if it had not been appropriating all the resources that should belong to the states because we run a unitary system we deceptively call a federal union.The FCT which is the only ground the Federal Government owns does not even manufacture sachet water for its residents to drink!
Back to Sani’s take on our governors,I must admit that there are a lot of waywardness on their part that make many people oppose what are vital ingredients of a truly federal system. And this is a challenge to the PVC holders to improve on the quality of their choices as we become a more settled polity down the line.
A good example is the injury the governors have done to the right of federating units to conduct council elections which is now making some people to suggest that INEC should conduct local elections. There was a Senatorial bye-election in Katsina the other day which the opposition party almost won but the ruling party in the state won the LG elections that followed one hundred per cent. Ditto for Osun State where the ruling party lost a Senatorial District to the opposition and went on to win all the council seats thereafter in an election it conducted.
There are legions of areas of such infractions. But the question is: from which cloth is the Federal Government cut different from the impunity material? And there is nothing that illustrates this better than the current face-off between the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Inspector General of Police over summons to the latter within the oversight powers of the former .Thrice in a row they have invited him and thrice he has turned his back.
As a superficial country,our usual approach would be to look at the wobbly load a man with crooked legs is carrying without acknowledging that there is a vertical link between the two.
Less we forget,the current IGP was a Commissioner of Police in Kano during the 2015 elections where a whopping 1.9 million votes was recorded for the APC and the REC and his entire family burnt to ashes shortly after the announcement of the results. The then CP now IGP told us they inhaled black smoke from an “electric spark”.
About a year after,the CP moved through the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, and became an IGP sending about thirty senior officers into early retirement.
It must be said that Buhari is not the first to engage in the whimsical use of the lacuna in the Abacha constitution to appoint an Inspector General of Presidency for the police out of turn which raises the question of what abuse the governors would carry out that the President is not presently doing through odious cronyism.
It is baffling that the various amendments carried out to the 1999 constitution have never looked at the weird provisions on the appointment of the IGP.
The extant law on the appointment of the Inspector General of Police is rooted in Sections 215 (1) (a) and 216 (2) of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution as amended. Section 215 (1)(a) provides: There shall be (a) an Inspector General of Police who subject to Section 216 (2) of this Constitution shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.” (emphasis mine).
Section 216 (2) state: Before making any appointment to the office of the Inspector General of Police or removing him from office the President shall consult the Nigeria Police Council.”
From the above provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the President can appoint any police officer as the Inspector General of police without observing their seniority in rank or appointment. This is because Section 215 (1)(a) only requires the President to make the appointment “from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.”
Compare this wide latitude prone to monumental abuse given to the Nigerian President with what obtains in Kenya where the job of an IGP is not for the “boys”.
In Kenya, the top-ranked police officer is the Inspector-General of Police, who has the overall command of the Kenya National Police Service. In the event of a vacancy arising, the procedure for appointment of the Inspector-General is:[ within 14 days the National Police Service Commission (hereafter “the Commission”), by notice in the Gazette and at least two other daily newspapers of national circulation, declares the vacancy, and requests for applications; the Commission conducts public interviews and shortlists at least three persons qualified for the position which are then published in the Gazette; within seven days from shortlisting, the Commission forwards the shortlisted names to the President for nomination; within seven days of receipt of the names, the President nominates a person for appointment and submits the name of the nominee to Parliament for approval; within fourteen days thereafter, Parliament vets and considers the nominee, and either approves or rejects the nomination; Parliament notifies the President as to its approval or rejection; if Parliament approves the nominee, within seven days of receiving the notification the President, by notice in the Gazette, appoints the nominee as the Inspector-General of the National Police Service.
Where Parliament rejects the nominee submitted by the President, the Speaker of the National Assembly communicates its decision to the President and requests a fresh nominee.
In submitting a new nominee, within seven days the President submits to Parliament a fresh nomination from amongst the persons shortlisted and forwarded by the Commission.
In America from where we copied the Presidential system from, the FBI is headed by a director, who originally was appointed by the attorney general. Legislation enacted in 1968 empowered the president of the United States, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint the director to a 10-year term.
The IGP appointed whimsically as stipulated by the Nigerian constitution owes his allegiance solely to the President who has promoted him beyond his competence and will not have the sufficient independence to carry himself as required by the duties of his office. He will often see himself as an equivalent of what Sani calls the thug of a governor wearing police uniform .
This is the imperative of a new police order in Nigeria as envisaged in a restructured polity. Aside from taking away the powers to appoint the head of police to one man,the current police structure in Nigeria is not in tune with federalist demands.
To ensure that the Nigeria Police Force is centrally controlled, the 1999 Constitution as amended in section 215(3) provides that the President or such other Minister of the Government of the Federation as he may authorise in that behalf may give to the Inspector General of Police such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Inspector General of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with.
Similarly, section 215(4) provides that the Governor of a state or such Commissioner of the Government of the state as he may authorise on that behalf, may give to the Commissioner of Police of that state such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety and public order within the state as he may consider necessary, and the Commissioner of Police shall comply with those directions or cause them to be complied with: Provided that before carrying out any such directions, the Commissioner of Police may request that the matter be referred to the President or such Minister of the Government of the Federation as may be authorise in that behalf by the President for his directions.In a federation?
The National Assembly will do well to deal with this matter from the root rather than get fixated with someone who may be functioning outside his depth.