Despite Supreme Court Judgment, PSC, Police on Fresh Collision Course over Recruitment of Personnel

*IG rejects commission’s list of police recruits, alleges fraud, irregularities 

*Allegation of corruption in recruitment process diversionary, PSC workers fire back

Chuks Okocha and Ikechukwu Aleke in Abuja

Despite the Supreme Court judgment, which affirmed the power of the Police Service Commission (PSC) to recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force, the commission and the police authorities may be heading for a fresh collision over the matter.

This followed the rejection of the list of successful candidates in the ongoing police constables’ recruitment by the police high command.

After four years of a fierce legal battle between the PSC and the Nigeria Police Force on who should be responsible for the recruitment of police constables, following the approval for the recruitment of 10,000 constables each year for six years by former President Muhammadu Buhari, the apex court had on July 11, 2023, resolved the issue in favour of the commission.
But citing alleged irregularities and corruption in the recruitment exercise, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Kayode Egbetokun, has rejected the list of successful candidates in the ongoing 2022/23 police constables’ recruitment conducted by the PSC.

But in a swift reaction, the Joint Union of the Staff of the Police Service Commission faulted the claim by the police high command, describing the allegation as diversionary.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), which acknowledged the power of the commission to recruit for the police as ruled by the Supreme Court, insisted that this power does not include the power to recruit unqualified personnel.

The statement issued by the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, argued that the Supreme Court’s judgment did not give the PSC the power to recruit unqualified and untrained individuals for the police.

The statement added that the rejection of the list followed a deluge of complaints from unsuccessful candidates and stakeholders over the disappearance of names of those who were screened and successful up to the final stage.

In the statement, Prince Adejobi stated that a scrutiny of the published list revealed several anomalies.

“Several names of persons purported to be names of successful candidates are those who did not even apply and therefore did not take part in the recruitment exercise,” he said.

Adejobi added that the list also contained names of candidates who had failed either the Computer Based Test (CBT) or the physical screening, as well as those disqualified after being found medically unfit.

“Most worrisome is the allegation of financial dealings and corrupt practices leading to the outcome where unqualified and untrainable individuals have been shortlisted,” he stated.

The police spokesman revealed that the IG, Egbetokun, had on June 10 written to the Chairman of the PSC objecting to the list and citing the irregularities discovered.

“The reaction of the IGP was without prejudice to the power of the commission to recruit for the police as ruled by the Supreme Court but this power does not include the power to recruit unqualified and untrained individuals for the police,” Adejobi added.

He argued that it is the police that bear the brunt of the recruitment of unqualified individuals and not the PSC.
“The same people who recruited anyhow for the police today will turn round to accuse the police tomorrow of inefficiency when their recruits start messing up,” he added.

Adejobi disclosed that the police have dissociated themselves from the published list.

He called for a transparent and credible review of the process to recruit “qualified, competent, trainable and productive hands into the Nigeria Police Force, in line with the vision of President Bola Tinubu-led administration on police reform.
The police spokesman further assured all that the police are committed to ensuring the process is thoroughly reviewed to be fruitful and successful for the betterment of the force and the country.

Allegation of Corruption in Recruitment Process Diversionary, PSC Workers Fire Back

Reacting to the allegations by the NPF, the PSC staff Joint Union insisted that the recruitment process followed due process, stressing that the exercise aligned with the result of the CBT of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB).
The union insisted that the IG’s claim that the recruitment exercise was marred with irregularities and alleged corruption was diversionary.

In a statement jointly issued yesterday by Ogundeji Remi and Adoyi Adoyi, on behalf of the Joint Union Congress of the PSC, it stated that despite the unambiguity in the powers of the PSC as spelt out by the Constitution and the subsequent interpretation of such powers by the Supreme Court, the Nigeria Police Force would still not allow the commission exercise its constitutional powers to recruit persons into the police.

 “The claim that the Recruitment Board was crippled and was not allowed to function, was no doubt a fallacy as the Board severally met before the release of the list of successful candidates. The same Board met and endorsed the list that was released on June 4, 2024, at their usual meeting point, PSC Corporate Headquarters, with the DIG, Training, Mr. Frank Mba, and other police representatives in attendance.

“Meanwhile, it is also worthy of note that the Police had shortlisted and concluded the exercise without the knowledge of the Board and PSC. They had the effrontery to submit the list to the Commission. They wanted a meeting of the Board where they had planned to force the list on the Board but unfortunately, their plans collapsed. For example, this takes us back to 2019 when the then IGP hijacked the list of candidates for the smooth ongoing recruitment exercise from the Commission in the guise of having the list to prepare the training colleges for training purposes and ended up smuggling hundreds of names of persons who neither applied nor participated in the screening process.

“A case in study is Nasarawa State with 13 Local Government Areas that are supposed to have had 253 successful candidates but ended up having 528 after the NPF had sneaked 275 candidates in excess. That culminated in the Commission instituting a legal action against the NPF over our mandate,” the statement explained.

According to the statement, the PSC demanded a forensic audit of the JAMB CBT’s results and compared it with the list released by the commission.

The union insisted that the list of successful candidates as released by the commission is open to anybody or organisation for forensic examination to establish its authenticity.

The union said the commission would not at any time involve itself in any untoward activities in the process of recruiting qualified Nigerians into the Nigeria Police Force.

 It said the police and any other interested bodies are very free to investigate any act of financial dealings and corrupt practices as alleged by the Force Public Relations Officer.

The union also stated that based on “the democratic nature, sense of responsibility, inclusiveness and transparency of the PSC, it has always involved other relevant bodies, including the NPF, in the recruitment process.”

“However, we would not succumb to any form of blackmail and threat as demonstrated by the Inspector-General of Police in the Press Release with reference number CZ.5300/FPRD/FHQ/ABJ/VOL.6/178, dated June 15, 2024, by the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), signed on behalf of the Inspector General of Police,” the statement added.

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