PANDEF Queries Arase’s removal as PSC Chairman 

 

  • says move confirms Tinubu’s government that of favoritism

From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), the apex socio-cultural body of the Niger Delta people, has raised concerns over the removal of Solomon Arase from his position as Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

In a statement signed by its National Chairman, Emmanuel Ibok Essien, while criticising Arase’s removal as unjust and unwarranted, PANDEF expressed profound disappointment and denunciation of this action, labeling it an unnecessary provocation that reflects poorly on the Tinubu administration.

PANDEF said it views Arase’s removal as an indication of the administration’s lack of regard for the nation’s laws and its commitment to uphold and protect them.

The organisation expressed believes that this singular act further solidifies the perception that the government prioritizes favoritism over competence, integrity, and efficiency.

The statement read:

We, hereby, express profound disappointment, and denounce the unjust manner in which Dr. Solomon Arase, a former Inspector General of Police, was relieved of his duties as Chairman of the Police Service Commission by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Monday, 10th June 2024.

PANDEF views Arase’s removal as unwarranted, and an unnecessary provocation that reflects negatively on Tinubu’s administration, indicating a lack of regard for the nation’s laws that Mr. President swore to uphold and protect.

This singular act further portrays this administration as one that does not prioritize competence, integrity, and efficiency; sacrificing merit on the altar of favoritism.

The question arises as to why any serious government would dismiss a personality like Solomon Arase, who had initiated positive reforms and improvements at the Commission, and given his meritorious track record as a diligent police officer, who rose through the ranks to become the 18th Inspector General of Police of the Nigeria Police Force, and retired with dignity.

Solomon Arase, a former Inspector General and a native of Edo State in the South-South region of Nigeria, was appointed as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) in January 2023 by former President Muhammadu Buhari. Solomon Arase’s tenure as Chairman of the Police Service Commission lasted only about 16 months of the four-year term.

According to Section 3, subsection (1)a of the Police Service Commission Act 2002, subject to the provisions of Section 4 of the Act, a member of the Commission, other than ex-officio members, shall each hold office for a term of four years and no more.

The Act also details the conditions for removal from office in Sections 4 as cited below:

(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3 of this Act, a person shall cease to hold office as member of the Commission if –

(a) He becomes bankrupt, suspends payment or compounds with his creditors; or(b) he is convicted of a felony or any offence involving dishonesty of fraud; or (c) He becomes of unsound mind, or is incapable of carrying out his duties; or (d) He is guilty of serious misconduct in relation to his duties; or (e) In the case of a person possessed of professional qualifications, he is disqualified or suspended, other than at his own request, from practicing his profession in any part of the world by an order of a competent authority made in respect of that member.

(2) A member of the Commission may be removed by the President if he is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or the interest of the public that the member should continue in office.

5 (1) Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 4 of this Act, the Chairman and any other member, may at any time be removed from that office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause of misconduct).

The pivotal question remains, “What warranted Solomon Arase’s removal from office by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu?”

PANDEF urges President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to tell Nigerians, and the world, at large, the reason or reasons for Arase’s removal. We stand against injustice, oppression, and likewise, misconduct.

PANDEF notes that when the President dissolved the memberships of boards and agencies of the federal government in 2023, shortly after assuming office, the leadership of the Police Service Commission remained untouched, presumably due to its statutory position. What has changed now?

It is important to recall that when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office, he retained Sir Mike Okiro as Chairman of the Police Service Commission until the end of Okiro’s tenure, appointing Musiliu Smith, also a former IGP, in May 2018 to succeed Okiro.

Sir Mike Okiro, the 13th Inspector General of Police from 2007 to 2009, was appointed as Chairman of the Police Service Commission in May 2013 by Buhari’s predecessor, former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Mr. President should recognize that Nigeria belongs to all its citizens, and any attempt to marginalize the people of the Niger Delta region and the South-South Geopolitical zones will not be taken lightly.

We have been inundated with disturbing reports of discrimination against our people in the last few months, particularly regarding the mass layoffs at the Central Bank of Nigeria, disproportionately affecting staff from the southern regions, especially the South South and South East zones.

We refrained from commenting on recent challenges to allow the Tinubu administration address them, but it appears the administration has opted to sustain the discriminatory practices against the people of the South-South Geopolitical zone.

Suffice to remind that the sacrifices and contributions of the South-South zone to the unity and sustenance of Nigeria are unparalleled.

We are not unaware of the conflict between the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Force since 2020, majorly due to issues bordering on recruitment into the constables cadre of the Police Force.

During Sir Mike Okiro’s tenure as Chairman of the Police Service Commission, there was a disagreement with the Inspector General of Police over the recruitment of constables. While the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, wanted the recruitment to be carried out on the basis of Local Government Areas, the Commission’s Chairman, Sir Mike Okiro, insisted it should be on the basis of equality of states. The unfair implication of the recruitment on LGA basis being, for instance, if ten persons were to be recruited from each local government area of the country, Kano State would have 440 recruits whereas Bayelsa State would have 80; the entire the South South zone would have 125 recruits while Kano and Jigawa States alone would have 71. It was this imbalance that prompted Sir Mike Okiro insistence. Regrettably, then President Muhammadu Buhari, for obvious reasons, supported the position of the Inspector General of Police.

The avoidable dispute over who has powers on recruitment to the police persisted through the tenure of Musiliu Smith, Okiro’s successor, leading to a national embarrassment in August 2022, when the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force urged Nigerians to ignore a publication by the Police Service Commission on police recruitment.

The provision of the Constitution on the subject is unambiguous. Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that the Police Service Commission, “Shall be responsible for the appointment and promotion of persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force; dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons (other than the IG) and formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigeria Police Force.”

Unfortunately, Section 18(1) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020, which was assented to by then President Muhammadu Buhari, states that: “The responsibility for the recruitment of recruit constables into the Nigeria Police Force and recruit cadets into the Nigeria Police Academy shall be the duty of the Inspector-General of Police.

This unnecessary duplication made both the police and the commission to lay claims to their powers to conduct recruitment for the police. Worryingly, the presidency was unable to resolve the contradiction.

Subsequently, the commission filed a suit before a Federal High Court in Abuja and the matter dragged on to the Supreme Court, which eventually gave judgment in July 2023, and affirmed the Police Service Commission’s mandate to recruit constables for the Nigerian Police.

With the Supreme Court ruling on the matter, it was expected that the Police Service Commission and the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force would bury the hatchet, and collaborate to ensure effective policing across Nigeria. Sadly, that appears not to be the case.

It is pertinent to implore that political considerations mustn’t be entertained in appointments to sensitive institutions such as the Police Service Commission.

Mr. President should likewise note that the continued disregard for the constitution and the rule of law by the government not only mirrors negatively on law enforcement officers, the military, and political leaders but also sends a dangerous message to citizens, posing a threat to Nigeria’s stability.

*A stitch in time saves nine!*

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