By Rotimi Fasan
ON this day last week, an Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, to stay action on the employment of 10, 000 recruits into the Nigeria Police Force. The engagement of the recruits for community policing has led to bad blood between the Police Service Commission, PSC, chaired by a former Inspector General of Police, Musiliu Smith, and the Inspector General of Police. Each side claims it is the right authority to preside over the employment of the recruits. The issue got so bad that the warriors dragged themselves before President Muhammadu Buhari who many Nigerians thought should call the combatants to order. But in his usual way, the President took a vague position that only amounted to kicking the can down the road.
Asking the PSC and the Police to go back and resolve their difference without making it clear which side was wrong or ought to readjust its position is neither here nor there. It is, therefore, not surprising that as far as the issue goes things have got worse. IG Adamu has ignored a valid court order to stay action on the employment of the 10,000 recruits by going ahead to release the names of shortlisted candidates for the exercise. He ordered them to proceed on training with a list of items they are required to take with them for training while providing a timeline for the entire exercise. What started as a turf war between the PSC and the Police led by the IG has now graduated to gross disregard of a court order, the same court the PSC had approached in the face of Buhari’s helplessness and inability to act. Of course, Abuja has become infamous for its habit of cheery-picking court orders, choosing which to obey or ignore, depending on how the mood takes it.
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By thumping his nose at the order of a court, Adamu has not done something new. He has only followed a well blazed track of serial violations of court orders by the Buhari administration. We have seen how the Buhari government has, against court orders, continued to detain a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, and leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim el Zakzaky. Lately, it was the convener of the #RevolutionNow Movement, Omoyele Sowore that was given a taste of the bitter pill of illegal detention under the watch of Abuja. Sowore was held by the Department of State Services in spite of a valid court order for his release. Often senior members of the executive ignore requests to appear before committees of the National Assembly. Such was the case, recently, that Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, threw his hands up in exasperation as he cried out like a school boy and took his complaint to President Buhari. Why? Simply because Service Chiefs the House had invited to discuss the security situation in the country had ignored the invitation.
IG Adamu has, therefore, done nothing unheard of. He was in fact being a good follower of his predecessor, Ibrahim Idris, who famously thumped his nose at the President himself by ignoring his order to proceed to Benue and Taraba states at the height of the herdsmen-farmers clash that led to the loss of hundreds of Nigerians and properties worth billions of naira. If all Buhari himself could do in the wake of Ibrahim’s disrespect to him was to blithely say that he had not realised his orders were not executed, what can Justice Ekwo do now? Hold Adamu for contempt and order his arrest? If he is so rash as to do that, won’t he be put in his place? Who would execute his order? The same police or DSS officers who take their orders from Muhammed Adamu? Mr. Adamu must be having a good laugh, having thought all this through and realised just how powerless our courts are, especially when dealing with uniformed personnel or others working directly in the Presidency. Except when our uniformed men and women choose to humour the courts or the parliament by condescending to respect their orders or position, these other arms of government are as powerless as an invalid’s fart.
An elder does not look on as two children fight and wash their dirty linen in public. President Buhari is the elderly one who has failed to play his part in the dispute between the Police and the PSC. Whenever his subordinates or others who look up to him bicker President Buhari has a penchant to display a kind of indifference that is unbecoming as it borders on a desire not to be seen as critical. This is a clear weakness on his part. A leader should be able and willing to condemn unacceptable behaviour among his subordinates and set right the wrong party. But rather than do this, President Buhari simply throws the ball back at those looking for his direction or, as is increasingly the case, hops on one of his nine jets and goes on yet another foreign trip. The President has been playing footsie since the fight between the PSC and the IG started. Granted, it should be clear what the warring sides ought to do as the law is clear as to who does what. But where they have failed to do the right thing the President ought to be firm and make his position clear.
He ought to have made clear to IG Adamu that the recruitment, promotion and discipline of police personnel come under the purview of the PSC. But Buhari is rather too weak to call his subordinates to order, to say nothing of his sacking them when they are found wanting. His appointments are without condition whether or not the appointees deliver on their remit. Otherwise, Mr. Adamu would not be exporting his disrespectful conduct from the officers of the PSC whose official vehicles, except for that of Musiliu Smith, he ordered withdrawn, to the judiciary. Neither are the hands of the PSC clean. It is itself only angling for a better share of the pork that is the employment of 10,000 recruits with the padded lists being hawked around by both sides. One reason for the repeated clash between the PSC and Police IGs in recent times must be the fact that successive chair of the PSC were/are former IG of Police. They probably see their role as PSC chair as one that allows them to exercise powers over incumbent IGs that they never tolerated as IG. In other words, they may be finding it difficult to respect their former subordinates who are now IGs, an unfortunate attitude that should be condemned.