It’s time to ensure seamless relationship between the PSC and the IGP’s office. Endless conflicts undermine national security

The controversy surrounding ongoing recruitment exercise of some constables into the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has again brought to fore the uneasy relationship and power struggle between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) office. A similar exercise in 2019 ended in court. This time around, the NPF has rejected the list of successful candidates, citing alleged irregularities and corruption. “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,” according to the NPF in a statement that has put a big question mark on the integrity of the recruitment exercise.

Denying the allegations, the PSC has also accused police authorities of trying to smuggle over 1,000 candidates into the list. The commission argued that despite the July 2023 Supreme Court’s intervention which affirms the power of recruitment by the PSC, the IGP office has worked to undermine their efforts. Meanwhile, Kayode Egbetokun has countered that his action was to ensure qualified people were recruited into the force, an assertion that the PSC took exception to. “Since 2019 when the Police forcefully snatched the exercise from the Commission, they have gone ahead against the provisions of the law to superintendent over the 2020 and 2021 exercises. It is the fraudulent recruits they brought into the system during these exercises that are currently haunting the Nigeria Police Force,” said the commission as the war of words continue.

Ordinarily, the PSC is in the same line of order and authority with the Federal Civil Service Commission, Federal Judicial Council, and the National Assembly Service Commission. Basically, they have similar constitutional powers and duties in the areas of welfare, recruitment, discipline, and promotion of all categories of staff. Going by the PSC establishment amendment act of 2001, some of the basic duties include, but not limited to, being responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons and functions to offices (other than the office of the IGP) and exercise disciplinary control over persons (other than the IGP). 

The commission is also expected to formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline, and dismissal of police officers; identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Force; and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline. It is also empowered to perform such other functions which in the opinion of the commission may be required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Police Force. The commission, according to the law, “shall not be subject to the direction, control or supervision of any other authority or person in performance of its functions other than as is prescribed in this Act.” 

As the apex court has affirmed, the powers to recruit, discipline and promote all cadres of officers of the police, except the IGP, reside with the PSC. There is a problem that needs to be addressed. The Police typically are responsible for maintaining public order and safety, enforcing the law, and preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal activities. These functions make it difficult for the institution to whimsically disobey the law as successive IGPs have done. But we also cannot understand the present situation where the powers to recruit and discipline reside outside the Force. While not belittling the role of the PSC, addressing the safety and security challenges currently confronting Nigeria is the function of the men and officers of the police. That should make the IGP more than a ceremonial head regarding police personnel. 

For several years under his stewardship, President Muhammadu Buhari allowed the crisis between the NPF and PSC to degenerate into a public brawl to the detriment of national security. Rather than working together, the two institutions have been undermining one another with serious implications for national security. President Bola Tinubu cannot afford to be indifferent to the bickering that has for years disrupted police recruitment. This is perhaps the time for the National Assembly to examine the relevant statutes for possible amendments in a manner that will eliminate contentions and ensure effective policing in Nigeria.

Related Articles