The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre has issued a statement in reaction to the ongoing review of the Police Service Commission (Reform) Bill. One of the new provisions is the inclusion of representatives of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), and National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in the Act.
It is said that this will be populating the commission with government agencies whereas the Police Service Commission is supposed to be a civilian external oversight mechanism. There is also included in the review the appointment of retired Inspectors General of Police as the chairman of the commission
The Statement as cited by Lex Community NG was signed by the Executive Director, Okechukwu Nwaguma and it reads as follows:
“The ongoing review of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Establishment Act by the National Assembly provides an opportunity for civil society to participate and make fundamental inputs grounded on the overriding goal of preserving and enhancing the institutional effectiveness and credibility of the PSC.
We must push to provide solid argument and grounds for opposing the appointment of a retired IGP as chairman of the PSC:
One of such grounds must be the need to secure the role of the Commission as civilian credible and effective oversight mechanism;
The PSC evinced under the Constitution and the PSC Act of 2001 is an independent and impartial institution. Such an institution is worth fighting for.
Appointing a former Inspector-General of Police to head the PSC subverts the independence and impartiality of the PSC.
The relevance and capacity of the commission as a civilian oversight mechanism to discharge its statutory roles is brought to question by the appointment of a retired Inspector-General of Police.
CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL STANDARDS GOVERNING THE COMPOSITION OF THE PSC
The Police Service Commission is established under Section 153(1) (m) of the 1999 Constitution. Under Section 154(1) of the same Constitution, the Chairman and members of the Commission “shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to confirmation by the Senate.” The composition of the Commission is governed by Section 2(1) of the Act as follows:
The management of the Commission shall vest in the following members, whose appointment shall be in line with the Federal Character provision of the Constitution.
(a) a Chairman who shall be the Chief Executive of the Commission;
(b) a retired Justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal;
(c) a retired Police Officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police;
(d) one representative each of
(i) women interest;
(ii) the Nigerian Press;
(iii) Non-Governmental human rights organisations in Nigeria;
(iv) organized Private Sector;
(v) the Secretary to the Commission
Under Section 156 of the Constitution:
(1) No person shall be qualified for appointment as a member of any of the bodies aforesaid if –
(a) he is not qualified or if he is disqualified for election as a member of the House of Representatives;
(b) within the preceding ten years, he has been removed as a member of any of the bodies or as the holder of any other office on the ground of misconduct.
(2) any person employed in the public service of the Federation shall not be disqualified for appointment as Chairman or member of any of such bodies:
Provided that where such person has been duly appointed he shall, on his appointment, be deemed to have resigned his former office as from the date of the appointment.
(3) No person shall be qualified for appointment to any of the bodies aforesaid if, having previously been appointed as a member otherwise than as an ex officio member of that body, he has been re-appointed for a further term as a member of the same body.
The qualifications for election to the House of Representatives are contained in Section 65 and 66 of the Constitution. These provisions are also reinforced by Section 2(2) of the Police Service Commission Act, which provides:
(2) The Chairman and other members of the Commission shall-
(a) be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation by the Senate;
(b) be persons of proven integrity and ability.
THE NEED TO SECURE THE ROLE OF THE COMMISSION AS AN INDEPENDENT CIVILIAN OVERSIGHT MECHANISM
Section 14(2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution mandates that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.” Partly for this purpose, it establishes the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in Section 214, and the Police Service Commission as an external, civilian oversight mechanism to assure the effectiveness of the Police in fulfilling this high constitutional mandate.
The defining characteristic and mission of the Commission is that it is a civilian oversight body, external to the Police. This requires the PSC to be independent and impartial. It cannot be either of these if it is headed by a retired former Inspector-General of Police.
This mission is destroyed by appointing a recent or former Inspector-General as the Chairman of the PSC.
Another solid ground for CSO intervention would be to push for an amendment to strengthen the capacity of the PSC to effectively investigate police misconduct
A report entitled ‘Criminal Force…’ published jointly by NOPRIN and Open Society Justice Initiative in 2010 stated as follows:
‘The Police Service Commission, established in 2001 as the oversight body for the police, has nominally strong statutory powers but remains institutionally enfeebled. The UN Special Rapporteur (on summary executions) summed up the record of the commission in the report of his mission to Nigeria as follows:
The Police Service Commission is charged with police discipline, but has opted to refer all complaints of extrajudicial police killings back to the police for investigation. The Commission’s mandate is potentially empowering. But despite efforts by one or two excellent commissioners, its performance has been dismal and self-restraining. Its quarterly reports to the President are not published and present a dismal chronicle of rubber-stamping decisions taken by the police, coupled with inaction in relation to pressing concerns. A radical overhaul of its procedures and composition is warranted.’
The PSC exists for the purpose of assuring the effectiveness and service quality of the police as well as dealing with discipline and promotions in the Force. Inherent in this mission and essential to its fulfilment of this mission is a requirement that the leadership of the PSC should be guaranteed by someone external to the Force rather than part of it.
What we need is a civilian-led PSC that has the courage to investigate all public complaints and cases of police abuse. Appointing a retired Inspector-General undermines and subverts this mission and renders the PSC ultimately into another department of the NPF. This is not good for the Police; it is inconsistent with the structure and purpose of the Constitution and the PSC Act of 2001; and defeats the whole essence of the establishment of the PSC as a civilian oversight body on policing in Nigeria. It has been demonstrated that the Commission will function, and has actually functioned more independently and effectively under a non police personnel rather than under a retired police officer. The impartiality and effectiveness of the PSC needs to be preserved and enhanced. Appointing a retired IGP diminishes it.