…demand appointment of qualified civilian
By Kingsley Omonobi
Civil Society Organization’s, CSOs, have called on the federal government to end the practice of appointing retired Inspector General of Police as chairman of the Police Service Commission, PSC,
The group alleged that such practice destroys the system.
The CSOs said, “The practice is not in tandem with the demands of independence, impartiality, effectiveness as well as the transparency and accountability required of a civilian oversight body.
The CSOs led by RULAAC include: Grassroots Democracy Network, GDN, Lagos, Conscience for human rights and conflict Resolution, Lokoja, Initiative for Public Safety Security and Educational Development IPSSED NETWORK, Foundation For Environmental Rights,Advocacy & Development (FENRAD), Confluence of Rights, Nigeria , Civil Liberties Organisation, (CLO) Institutional and sustainable development Foundation, African Youths Initiative on Crime prevention and Centre for Citizens Rights among others.
They said, “We, the representatives of the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria under the aegis of NPF – PTF Support and Oversight Group, a CSO Observatory Group set up to monitor the implementation of the Police Act 2020 and the Police Trust Fund Act 2019 facilitated by RULAAC in collaboration with the Police Reform Consortium with support from McArthur Foundation hereby strongly urge the Federal Government of Nigeria to end the practice of appointing retired Inspectors General of Police as chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).
“We make this call against the background of the resignation on the 15th September 2022, of former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Musiliu Smith as the Chairman of the PSC and the voting by the PSC Commissioners of one of them Commissioner 1, Clara Ogunbiyi JSC (retired) as the acting chairman pending the appointment by the president of a substantive chairman for the Commission
“We have also noted reports in the media about some retired IGPs already lobbying to be appointed the chairman of the PSC to replace retired IGP Smith.
“Civil society and other informed and concerned stakeholders including the Bureau of Public Service Reform have consistently advised against the practice by successive administration’s of appointing retired IGPs or other retired senior police officers as chairman of the PSC.
“This is a bad practice that destroys the mission and effectiveness of the PSC as civilian external oversight and accountability mechanism for the NPF.
“CSO’s objections to the practice of appointing retired IGPs as Chairman of the PSC are grounded in law and the over-riding goal of preserving and enhancing the institutional effectiveness and credibility of the PSC as well as to secure the role of the Commission as civilian credible and effective oversight mechanism.
“The PSC evinced under the Constitution and the PSC Act of 2001 is an independent and impartial institution. Such an institution is worth fighting for. Appointing a former Inspector-General of Police to head the PSC subverts the independence and impartiality of the PSC.
“In 2021, the House of Representatives commenced the review of the PSC Establishment Act and one of the newly proposed provisions is the prohibition of the appointment of a serving or retired police officer or serving or retired officers of any military or paramilitary organization as chairman of the PSC.
“The resignation of Mr Musliu Smith presents an ample opportunity for the Federal Government to heed the perennial call by Civil Society and other critical stakeholders to correct the anomaly of appointing a retired IGP as the chairman of the PSC.
“The practice is not in tandem with the demands of independence, impartiality, effectiveness as well as the transparency and accountability required of a civilian oversight body.
“It is also not justifiable either in law or practice. Instead, it undermines the spirit and intent of the law and the statutory purpose for the establishment of the commission.
“The PSC is a civilian oversight body whose job description includes the investigation and punishment of police misconduct. This requires the PSC to be independent and impartial.
“The appointment of a retired IGP as the Chairman of the PSC has constituted a major obstacle for the effective performance of the PSC because it subverts the independence and impartiality of the PSC.
“A report entitled ‘Criminal Force: Torture, Abuse, and Extrajudicial Killings by the Nigeria Police Force’ published jointly by NOPRIN and Open Society Justice Initiative in 2010 stated as follows:
“The Police Service Commission, established in 2001 as the oversight body for the police, has nominally strong statutory powers but remains institutionally enfeebled.
“The UN Special Rapporteur (on summary executions) summed up the record of the commission in the report of his mission to Nigeria as follows:
“‘The Police Service Commission is charged with police discipline but has opted to refer all complaints of extrajudicial police killings back to the police for investigation.
“The Commission’s mandate is potentially empowering. But despite efforts by one or two excellent commissioners, its performance has been dismal and self-restraining.
“Its quarterly reports to the President are not published and present a dismal chronicle of rubber-stamping decisions taken by the police, coupled with inaction in relation to pressing concerns.”