While insecurity lingers in different parts of the country leading to persistent calls for efforts to combat it, Nigerians are being treated to a macabre dance of some sort, over who should handle the recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Police Force.
A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal led by Justice Olabisi Ige recently ruled that the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) lacked the power to recruit the constables. The court held that the power to recruit personnel into the Nigerian Police Force is the exclusive preserve of the Police Service Commission (PSC) and nullified the one executed by the police.
The PSC had taken the IGP and the Police to court over the recruitment of 10,000 constables arguing that the defendants were not authorised by law to play any role in “the appointment, promotion, dismissal or exercise of disciplinary measures over persons holding or aspiring to hold offices in the Nigeria Police Force.”
While positing that the NPF’s move is a barefaced usurpation of its functions and powers, the PSC asked the Federal High Court to nullify the recruitment process already started by the NPF and the IGP.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, in an earlier judgment delivered on December 2, 2019, had dismissed the case hence the PSC’s decision to approach the appellate court which ruled in its favour.
As at the last count, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Adamu Mohammed, obviously displeased with the appeal court ruling, has approached the Supreme Court with a plea that the judgement of the Appeal Court be set aside.
This newspaper considers the squabble between the PSC and the IGP over recruitment of constables as a serious blow to the nation’s efforts to combat insecurity. In our opinion, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever for the nation to find itself in the current state of squabble between two agencies critical to the task of ensuring effective policing.
We are worried that while the country struggles with insecurity, its police force is entangled in a needless supremacy tussle that has the tendency to dissipate energy and divert attention if not affect adversely the fight against crimes and criminality.
Clearly, the ongoing turf war between the PSC and the IGP is very unfortunate at a time concerted effort is required in the fight against insecurity. There is a consensus of opinion that Nigeria needs more policemen. Indeed, the United Nations (UN) standard of policing provides for one policeman to 400 citizens, but Nigeria is said to have one policeman to 600 citizens.
A 2006 UN analysis shows an approximate average of 300 police officers per 100,000 inhabitants. It was observed that only nine countries disclosed values lower than 100 officers per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the report, the highest average of police officers – around 400 – was observed in West Asia, Eastern and Southern Europe.
Recently, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State said 30 policemen oversee 100 villages in the state. Till date, the police have not come out to refute Masari’s allegation. In any case, there is nothing to refute because it is coming from the chief security officer of a state ravaged by the challenges of insecurity which has led to colossal loss of lives and property.
Nigeria is under-policed but rather than look critically at how to bridge the gap, restore public confidence in the police and ultimately provide the needed instruments for effective policing, the PSC and the IGP are engaged in tiff.
In our considered opinion, the squabble is suggestive of the lack of coordination between two important organs-the PSC and the office of the IGP- both of which are very critical to effective policing. More than anything else, it is an affront on the government because it shows that the parties involved are not adequately being supervised.
There is no contesting the fact that security remains one of the fundamental challenges facing Nigeria. It is sad and indeed disheartening to note that the row between PSC and the NPF is coming at a time the clamour for effective policing looms large because of the deteriorating security situation occasioned by terrorism, banditry, killing, raping and kidnapping.
We condemn this needless superiority battle and still cannot fathom why the feuding parties have not been called to order. It is absolutely embarrassing that the supervising ministry has allowed the matter to get to this shameful level.
There is no denying the fact that what the nation needs at the moment are practical solutions to the seemingly intractable security challenges bedevilling its citizens and not the patently needless superiority scuffle.
Without prejudice to the ongoing litigation, we urge the Ministry of Police Affairs to intervene, ask parties to withdraw the matter and seek an administrative means of resolving this national disgrace.