By Peter Uzoho
Citing breach of the Federal Character principle and other illegal acts by President Muhammadu Buhari in the constitution of the board of trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund announced recently, civil society organisations (CSOs) have called on the president to review the board of the fund to reflect the federal character.
The CSOs listed the federal character principles violated by Buhari in the police trust fund’s composition as the appointment of retired Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman Abba as chairman and Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto as Executive Secretary, both from the same geopolitical zone.
They argued that the two main principal officers of the fund’s board coming from the same geopolitical zone was against Section 14(3) of the Constitution.
The CSOs in a statement yesterday collectively signed by 82 of their member organisations, said other constitutional breaches and counter-productive decisions taken in the composition of the board of police trust fund included appointment of a former inspector general of police to chair the board; non consultation with key stakeholders and critical interests in the appointments; among others.
The CSOs said: “In the light of the foregoing observations and concerns, we demand that the president takes the following immediate steps:
Review the composition of the Trust Fund to ensure that it complies with the requirements of the law, particularly, the Federal Character Principle.
“Ensure adequate and wide consultations with critical stakeholders and interest groups to ensure that those who are appointed to represent them in the board enjoy legitimacy, credibility and trust.
“Ensure that the person to chair the Board is selected based on clear criteria which should include, among others, that the person comes from the private sector, has relevant experience, is suitable and competent in public management and has integrity and capable of inspiring trust.
“Explain the inconsistency in references to board membership in the Act and consider an amendment to the Act to address the concerns raised.”
“The constitution of the Board of Trustees for the Nigeria Police Trust Fund by President Buhari was announced on May 6, 2020 by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity).
The CSOs however noted that the constitution of the board was unduly delayed after the trust fund was passed into law in 2019 – nearly a year ago – to address the urgent need for alternative funding sources for the Nigeria Police to address the funding and equipment deficits and enhance the operational capability, training, welfare and morale of its work force.
They said that by the undue delay in constituting the board, nearly one year of the Trust Fund’s six years tenure had already been lost.
They CSOs further said: “Apart from the delay in constituting the Board of Trustees and providing the initial take off grant by the federal government to enable the fund take off, we are concerned by a number of other issues arising from the constitution of the Board and the composition of its members
“The appointment of retired Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, as Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, and the appointment of Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto as the Executive Secretary of the Board breach the Federal Character Principle and Law.