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How PSC, NPF dispute stalled recruitment of 10,000 policemen

The simmering disagreement between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the police high command over the recruitment of constables is affecting service delivery and the…

The simmering disagreement between the Police Service Commission (PSC) and the police high command over the recruitment of constables is affecting service delivery and the timeline to increase the manpower of the security outfit.

Specifically, stakeholders who spoke to our reporter described the fresh controversy on the recruitment exercise as “unhealthy,” saying such development was already jeopardising the internal security in the country considering the leading role of the police in ensuring civil authority. 

In the latest incident, Inspector-General of Police Kayode Egbetokun, on Saturday, June 15, released a strong-worded statement, in which he rejected a list that emanated from the recruitment exercise carried out by the PSC. 

The renewed hostility came less than one week after President Bola Tinubu sacked the immediate past chairman of the PSC, Solomon Arase, who was appointed on January 24, 2023 by the immediate past president Muhammadu Buhari.

Although Daily Trust could not ascertain whether the fresh hostility was connected with Arase’s sack, stakeholders in the security sector said the president should have allowed him to complete his assignment on the recruitment. 

However, IGP’s statement released to journalists through the spokesman of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Olumuyiwa Adejobi, expressed displeasure over what he described as “recruitment process marred with irregularities and alleged corruption.” 

Egbetokun particularly said the NPF was concerned when the names of candidates who were properly screened and trained disappeared from the list of successful candidates. 

“Upon a careful scrutiny of the list released on the PSC portal, it was discovered that 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. 

“The published list contains several names of candidates who failed either the computer-based test (CBT) or the physical screening exercise, or both. 

“There are those who made it to the last stage of the exercise but were disqualified, having been found medically unfit through the standardised medical test, but who also made the list of successful candidates as published by the PSC. 

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

“It is the police that bear the brunt of 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,” the spokesman of the NPF said on behalf of the IGP. 

But in a swift reaction, members of staff of the commission, under the aegis of the Joint Union Congress, described IGP’s allegations as diversionary, saying his observations were made in bad taste. 

The union said it was regrettable that though the commission’s powers to recruit for the police were derived from the constitution and were recently affirmed by a Supreme Court judgement, the police would not allow the commission to perform its duties. 

The union’s chairman, Adoyi Adoyi, said the commission was worried that the police had become confrontational during recruitment exercises, saying that this “suggests obvious hidden interests and corrupt tendencies.” 

“It is sad to note that despite the unambiguity in the powers of the PSC as spelt out by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the subsequent interpretation of such powers by the Supreme Court, the Nigeria Police Force will still not allow the commission exercise its constitutional powers to appoint persons into the Force. 

“This clandestine scheme by the Inspector General of Police to usurp such powers is an affront to both the Nigerian constitution and the judgement of the Supreme Court. 

“The commission is at a loss as to why it is only during recruitment exercises that police confrontation manifests, suggesting obvious hidden interests and corrupt tendencies,” Adoyi said.

 

Not the first time 

Daily Trust reports that the two federal establishments are not new to this type of controversy. 

Experts believe the failure of the NPF and PSC to reach a common ground was partly responsible for the stagnation of the recruitment of 60,000 personnel as directed by the immediate past president, Buhari. 

In the last one year after the ascension of Bola Tinubu as president, no police constable has been recruited. 

And even during Buhari’s time, only 20,000 were recruited before he exited as president. 

Recall that in 2018, at one of the Federal Executive Council meetings, the then President Buhari gave an approval that the authorities of the NPF and the PSC should work hand-in-hand and recruit at least 10,000 police officers into the Force every year. 

He went further to charge the two organisations that the recruitment must be done in six years in order to have 60,000 officers who will boost the manpower of the lead security agency in the maintenance of internal security. 

Ideally, 10,000 officers were supposed to be recruited in 2018, another batch in 2019, as well as an additional 10,000 officers in each of the subsequent years. This would have summed up the total number of young officers to 60,000 as directed by the then president. 

However, checks by our reporter showed that since 2018, only 20,000 police constables have been recruited. 

Last year, both police and the PSC claimed that the recruitment of the third batch was underway to make it 30,000, but up till today, this has not been achieved before the fresh controversy.

 

‘Infighting not good for the system’ 

In an interview with our correspondent, the executive director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), Mrs Faith Nwadishi, said the row between the two establishments did not augur well for Nigeria. 

Mrs Nwadishi explained that there should be sanctions for any public official who tries to further weaken the system or trample upon the laws of the land. 

She said: “Every time there is a recruitment exercise, there is always this back-and-forth; the National Assembly should quickly step in. 

“It shows that there is no synergy between the two agencies. Something has to be done about it. If something is not done about it, it will affect the quality of personnel that are being brought into the police. The oversight of the police will be threatened,” she said. 

Also speaking in separate interviews with Daily Trust, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police and a former Commissioner of Police, wondered why the two agencies clash all the time over recruitment matters. 

The duo, who did not want to be named, called on the President Tinubu to prevail on the leaders of the two establishments to quickly find a lasting solution to the matter. 

On his part, the executive director of the Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma, faulted the police over its assertions that the 2022 police recruitment process was “marred with irregularities and alleged corruption.” 

Nwanguma said although previous recruitment exercises were characterised by “scandalous irregularities and corruption,” the process put in place by the PSC under Arase, including setting up of a multi-stakeholder recruitment board that had representatives of the police and other government agencies, was designed to close the gap that allowed irregularities and corruption. 

“To ensure the integrity and accountability of the process, the PSC engaged the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board to handle the computer-based test for the candidates, who had been shortlisted following the conclusion of the application stages. 

“Those of us in the civil society working on police reform issues and engaging with both the NPF and the PSC on a daily basis know that the transparency of the process of the recent recruitment puts it ahead of others before it. 

“Previous recruitment exercises, as earlier said, were characterised by scandalous irregularities and corruption. 

“There was no complain or objection by any of the institutions represented in the recruitment board until the result was released by the PSC when suddenly, the NPF/IGP came up with surprising allegations of irregularity and corruption. Why is it only the police of all agencies in the board that is complaining?” He queried.  

A serving divisional police officer, who also does not want to be named, said he and his colleagues were not happy. 

“We are the ones paying the price because we don’t have the requisite manpower to police our areas of jurisdiction. 

“It is unthinkable to mention that Nigeria is still coping with less than 400,000 police personnel in this age. Remember, we have a population of over 200 million people. 

“By all standards, Nigeria is under-policed. We are supposed to be in charge of civil authority. It is an indictment on us that we have the military in the streets. They are supposed to be in charge of the territorial integrity of the country. Internal security is ours, but we need the manpower to do it,” he said.

 

FG wades in 

When contacted to find out whether the Ministry of Police Affairs would wade into the matter, the spokesman of the ministry, Bolaji Kazeem, told our correspondent that he would find out from the chief of staff to the minister and get back to Daily Trust. But he did not get back up to the time of filing this report. 

However, a source at the ministry confided in our correspondent that the minister, Ibrahim Gaidam, will invite the leaderships of both warring establishments and reconcile them. 

Efforts to speak with the spokesman of the commission, Ikechukwu Ani, were not successful as several calls to his mobile phone were not answered. Also, he did not reply to a text message sent to him, up to the time of filing this report.

 

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