Concerns Mount over Constitutionality of Police Command Appointments

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•North-west tops list with 12 CPs, South-east gets one in contravention of federal character principle enshrined in S14 (3) of 1999 Constitution as amended
•Abia, 13 others have none
•PSC pushes for implementation of policy on balance, equality of states

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

There are mounting concerns over the constitutionality of appointment of Commissioners of Police (CPs) to the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
While some states have more than three CPs heading state police commands, many others have none contrary to the provision of Section 14 (3) of the Constitution as amended, which forbids domination of one section of the country by the other.

It states: “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic of other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”

Police sources that spoke to THISDAY yesterday said there were concerns in the force that it was in breach of this section of the constitution, contending that it had become necessary for the police authorities to make amends.

A breakdown of the list of commissioners of police in state command positions obtained by THISDAY shows that while Katsina has four slots, 14 other states, including Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Jigawa, Kogi, Nasarawa, Ondo, Oyo and Rivers have none.
It also showed that of the six geopolitical zones, the North-west dominated with 12 of its indigenes in such a powerful position.

Of the 12, four are from Katsina State, the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari, while Kebbi has three, Sokoto two, with Zamfara, Kano and Kaduna producing one apiece. However, Jigawa, the seventh state in the zone has no indigene holding any state command.

Trailing the North-west is the North-east with eight of its indigenes in command positions. Of the eight, two each are from Adamawa and Taraba States while Borno, Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe have one each.

With seven of their indigenes holding command positions, the South-west came third in order of ranking.
Osun has three, while Lagos and Ogun States produced two each. The three other states in the zone, Ekiti, Oyo and Ondo, have none.

As for the South-south, three of the five CPs are from Cross River, one each from Akwa Ibom and Edo, while Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa have none.

The North-central, with four CPs is next to the South-south. Niger, Plateau, FCT and Kwara have one each, while Benue, Kogi as well as Nasarawa have no indigene leading any of the 36 state commands and FCT.

At the bottom of the ranking is the South-east, which has only one CP from Imo State. The other four states in the geopolitical zone, Anambra, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi have none.
The situation, analysts say, makes a joke of the Buhari administration’s community policing policy, which places emphasis on localization of the police.

“The whole idea is that people who are more knowledgeable about an area are better placed to police the community, hence the indigenisation of the police. Asking a Northerner from landlocked Kano State to head the policing of riverine Bayelsa State turns logic on its head,” an analyst said.

Indeed there are deafening complaints in police circles, that the entire mobile police squadrons in the South are commanded by Northern officers. “Does that make sense to you?” a serving senior officer asked THISDAY.

THISDAY checks have shown that in a bid to ensure adherence to the federal character principle and adequate representation of the 36 states of the federation in the posting of police commissioners, the PSC is pushing for the implementation of its policy that stipulates that each state of the federation must produce a commissioner of police heading a state police command at any given time.

The policy states that each state must produce a commissioner of police, who must serve at least two years in a command before redeployment. If a particular state does not have an officer of the rank of a commissioner, a neighbouring state that satisfies the requirement may take its place.
THISDAY gathered that some states produced many commissioners of police, none of whom is heading any state police command.

Said a knowledgeable source: “Some states may have let’s say four commissioners of police but none of them would be heading any state command. They may just be at the Admin Department of the Force Headquarters.
“It is an existing policy which has not been implemented. We are pushing for its implementation.”
The source said the policy envisaged that a police commissioner should serve at least two years in such a command before redeployment.

“The policy states how CPs should be appointed and tenure. That every state will have a state command CP. I mean it puts to an end to the practice where one state will produce four CPs while some will have their sons and daughters on CP ranks posted to head admin and other redundant offices.

“The policy says that command CPs will now have a tenure of not less than two years and should not be removed unless on promotion, disciplinary issues or death,” the source said.

THISDAY further learnt that the PSC is expected to post commissioners as required by the constitution but the policy on state command CPs has not been implemented by the IG.
It was learnt that the IG is allegedly frustrating the implementation of the policy.

“The policy says the commission will now post CPs to commands as it is stated in the constitution that such posting is an appointment and the responsibility of the commission.

“This policy came into effect several months ago but has not been respected by the IGP. Currently many states with officers on CP rank don’t have state command CP,” the source said.
THISDAY also learnt that most of the MOPOL commanders posted to the Southern part of the country are from the North, a situation that is at variance with the federal character principle.

“The issue of Commanders of Police Mobile Force, PMF is terribly lopsided. This is not in the policy but there is need to spread it so that every state, region should be represented. There is need for federal character in these appointments. Presently, MOPOL commanders in squadrons in the South are northerners,” a security source said.

When contacted, spokesman of PSC, Ikechukwu Ani, said the commission had since sent the policy document to the IG for implementation.

“I am aware there is a policy on that from the commission. We have since sent it to the IGP,” he said.
Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Frank Mba, a deputy commissioner, told THISDAY he was attending a retreat when he was contacted for responses to the constitutional and operational issues raised.
Answers to THISDAY enquiry, listing the areas of concerns forwarded to his mobile phones yesterday afternoon were still being awaited at press time.