The crisis of confidence between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, which has been simmering for quite some time now, has been exacerbated by the recent redeployment of Commissioners of Police (CPs), with the commission warning that the IGP lacks power to do such posting.
THISDAY exclusively gathered that the commission expressed concern about a likely collusion between the IGP and state governors to post preferred CPs to their states ahead of the general election. It feared the situation might promote violence or jeopardise the poll.
In a letter to the IGP, which was exclusively obtained by THISDAY, PSC also frowned on the recent posting of the Commissioner of Police for the Federal Capital Territory to the command without notification of the commission, as was the practice. The letter, dated January 19, 2023, was signed by Director, Recruitment/Postings, for the Board of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Ferdinand Ekpe.
It stated that the posting was illegal, unconstitutional, and contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and Police Act 2020.
The letter, titled, “Re- posting of Commissioners of Police to State Commands,” read, “Posting of Commissioners of Police is presently carried out by the Office of the IGP with mere information to the PSC. A case in hand is the recent posting of a CP for FCT where the IGP ordered the posting and resumption of the officer even before the commission was informed
“Note that the powers of posting of CPs to state is exclusively that of the PSC. This is a constitutional matter as enshrined in Section 215, sub- section 1B, which states that: ‘there shall be a Commissioner of Police for each state of the Federation who shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission.’ This has been emphasised in Section 12, sub-section 1 and 2 of the Police Act 2020 recently signed by the President Muhammadu Buhari.
The communication to the IG further outlined the constitutional provisions in that regard. It cited Sub-section (1) of the constitution which states that, “The Police Service Commission shall appoint such numbers of Commissioners of Police as required for efficient performance of the functions of the Police Force.”
“Sub-section (2), The Police Service Commission shall from among the Commissioners of Police appointed under Sub-section 1 assign a Commissioner of Police to a State or to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
The commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, warned that the IGP had violated the constitution by his action.
It told the IGP, “Your action is, therefore, totally unconstitutional, illegal and a violation of both the Constitution and the Police Act 2020.
“The commission once again draws your attention to this illegality. The commission is all the more concerned by this act of illegality as the 2023 general election approaches wherein state governors may want postings of commissioners of police of their choices to their states, which can lead to political violence and crisis during the elections.
“Instances like this is why framers of the constitution deposited this power to the college of commissioners representing all geopolitical zones in the Police Service Commission.
“We, therefore, by this letter, direct that the Inspector General of Police, henceforth, stop the practice of posting commissioners of police to state commands, as it is a direct affront to the law, erodes confidence in the police by the Nigerian people and can cause violence during the forthcoming 2023 general election.”
The letter further directed, “Henceforth, in event of a vacancy in the position of Commissioner of Police in any state, the most senior police officer in the command shall assume the office in acting capacity pending the appointment of a substantive Commissioner of Police by the commission.
“You should be guided by the procedure for posting of Commissioners of Police by the Police Service Commission.”
The PSC and the IGP had clashed severally in the past over accusations by the commission that the IGP was usurping its constitutional powers.
The duo had resorted to litigation up to the Court of Appeal, where the appellate court declared that powers to recruit constables and other functions belonged to the commission.
The police high command is also believed to have approached the Supreme Court on the matter.