For a security agency that many Nigerians have professed they would like to be rid of, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) continues to generate and cavort in controversy. Little mention will be made of the bloodthirstiness of frustrated police officers who have responded to agitations for an end to police brutality with further mocking brutality; agitations which should not have reached the crescendo now witnessed but for the somnolent indifference of both the presidency and leadership of the police to previous human rights abuse perpetrated by the force.
Although chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) Kayode Fayemi has noted that governors are divided on the issue of State Police Forces, many legislators and public analysts are all for it. Police misconduct and what many have termed maladministration are at the heart of the matter, issues which the federal government sought to rectify with the enactment of the Nigeria Police Force (Enactment) Bill 2020. Unfortunately, this has whipped up constitutional controversy.
On September 30, the Appeal Court delivered judgement declaring the recruitment of 10,000 constables by the NPF unconstitutional. The process of recruitment, argued the Police Service Commission (PSC), was unconstitutional as Paragraph 30 of the Third Schedule of the 1999 Constitution grants the power of appointing persons to offices other than the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP) to the PSC. Why then, wondered the PSC, had the IGP undertaken that task? The NPF plans to appeal the Court of Appeal’s judgement, with one ground of appeal being that recruitment and appointment are rather different things. These are legal matters, but it seems only fitting to observe that the intendment of the law may have been for the civilian body performing certain oversight functions on the police to have a say in the appointment and dismissal of police officers.
Meanwhile, governors belonging to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) have also declared that some sections of the new Police Act are unconstitutional. The federal government clearly has its work cut out for it on the administration of the police force. The problems that have besieged the centralised existence of the NPF appear to outweigh the pros of the force. Enough has clearly not been done to address the security infrastructure of the country, hence the unending protests by the youths for police reform, the judicial quibbling between the PSC and NPF, and the discontent with provisions of the Police Act 2020 by PDP governors.