By Adewole Kehinde
As a reporter covering the activities of the Nigeria Police, I have been following the power tussle between the Nigeria Police and the Police Service Commission especially issues related to promotions and the demotion of Police personnel since the assumption into office by the new Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith.
The demotion issues has been in the media due to petitions received from those who were not promoted and some that claimed they paid but were not promoted; whoever they pay is yet to be known.
I remembered vividly that the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris addressed a letter to the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Musiliu Smith, urging him to make a remedy on integral laid down procedure in attempt to reverse some promotions made by the immediate past PSC Chairman, Mike Okiro.
It will be recalled that on April 19, 2018, the Police Service Commission said it approved the special promotion of 45 Police Officers for gallantry. The PSC approved the promotion of 13 others who played major roles in the arrest of Chukwudumuje Onwuamadike a.k.a Evans, a notorious kidnapper, and 21 members of his gang.
The commission said it took the decision at its 27th Plenary Meeting in Abuja as the promotion and acting appointments were based on the superlative performance of the officers in the arrest of the deadly gang who terrorized Nigerians.
Despite the significant promotions of men and officers of the Nigeria Police by the immediate past Police Service Commission, it is still a far cry considering the large number in the Force put about 360,000.
One thing the Chairman, Police Service Commission, Musiliu Smith should know is that the Inspector General of Police as the administrative head of the Nigeria Police, is in a best position to determine the gallantry ability of all Police personnel and recommend them for promotion and disciplinary actions where necessary while the Police Service Commission is there to complimentary the IGP’s decisions in the best interest of the country security apparatus.
I think the PSC Chairman, Musiliu Smith need to be properly guided by PSC legal team as the below extract from his letter to the Inspector General of Police is backing the special promotion he is working on demoting;
The following revised conditions must therefore be put in place before any officer could be qualify for special promotion:
1. That the benefitting officer must have spent at least two years on his substantive rank:
2. That the Officer must not have been beneficiary of special promotion in the last three years;
3. That reasons for special promotion must be clearly stated and evidence of such superlative performance open to scrutiny
4. Special promotion may be proposed by a recommendation of the Inspector General of Police
5. Notwithstanding Number 1 to 4 above, the Police Service Commission can promote any deserving officer on special grounds.
Like I have said earlier, it is under the power of the Inspector General of Police to proposed recommendations for Special promotion since he works with the personnel as administrative head, he knew their working capacity and they must have contributed to his widely accepted performance in the past three years in office.
Notwithstanding the above analysis, the Police Service Commission can promote any deserving officer on special grounds with the consultation of the Inspector General of Police.
The Police Service Commission should rather look into promoting those who are yet to be promoted as there is vacancy for such promotion in the Nigeria Police Force.
The Police Service Commission should know that since only those who hire can fire, recruitment, promotion and disciplining of the Police officers are within joint prerogative powers of the Commission and Inspector General of Police offices. None of the two offices can suo moto or single-handedly carry out any of the exercise without being a nullity.
It will also be recalled that the IGP has stated in his letter to the PSC Chairman that the office of the IGP is a creation of law and by virtue of Section 215 the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which endows it with responsibility of the command and control of the police force.
Besides, IGP said Section 6 of the Police Act and Section 309 of the Nigeria Police Regulation states also lay credence to the provision of the 1999 Constitution.
“Implied in the above is that the IGP is the Grand Commander of the Operations of the Nigeria Police Force and therefore has the power and capacity to know the ability of the officers and access them to determine their suitability for operations and promotions in the Force.
“The principles guiding promotions and on the basis of which the Inspector General of Police can access his officers are spelt out in Section 149 of the Police Regulation’’.
He said Section 149 of the Police Regulation listed three criteria for assessing officers for promotion and of all the three, Seniority in Rank is the least factor for consideration.
“The drafters of the Act understand that if seniority is made important in the consideration for advancement and promotion in the Force, Officers will merely lazy about and expect to be promoted on the basis of seniority without more.
“Section 165 of the Police Regulation which states that “Seniority, unless combined with merit, efficiency and undoubted suitability for promotion shall not constitute a claim for promotion” is in conformity with the intendment of Section 149 of the Act.
“The Power of promotion by the PSC is usually exercisable based on recommendation by the IGP on the general principles guiding promotion which are enumerated in section 149 and 165 of the Police Regulation.
“These principles are based on Fitness, knowledge of the duties of the appointment, general capability, training, experience, efficiency, intelligence, zeal and good displayed in the performance of the duties. ‘’Seniority in Rank ordinarily should not constitute a claim to promotion except it is combined with merit, efficiency and suitability.
Once the PSC duly constituted considers and approves the recommendation of the IGP and issue letters of promotion, the officers are officially informed of their promotion, decorated and posted in line with the new rank.
The only way, an officer promoted by a duly constituted PSC in plenary can again be demoted by the same Commission is on the exercise of the Commission’s power of discipline. To discipline an officer in the Police Force, such an officer must be queried and given time within which to defend himself in writing.
The Inspector General of Police is in charge of Operations. He knows his men so recommendations come from him to the Police Service Commission for Promotions. It is not the duty of the Commission to pick individuals for promotion or for disciplinary action.
Adewole Kehinde is a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst based in Abuja. email@example.com