Finally, the Police Service Commission (PSC) is set to wield the axe that will see the pruning of the rank of the Nigeria Police Force.
The category of officers to be affected by the impending demotion is those whose promotions were regarded as “lopsided” or “unmeritorious”.
Investigations by Daily Independent reveal that the plenary session of the PSC, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday, reached a final decision to approve the demotion of the affected officers.
The session also approved the promotion of deserving officers, who allegedly had earlier been denied promotion.
Alhaji Musiliu Smith, PSC Chairman and retired Inspector-General of Police (IGP), who chaired the session, had on assumption of office in July 2018 allegedly been confronted with myriad of petitions from aggrieved police officers over the issue of promotion.
Daily Independent had exclusively reported in August and September, 2018 that Smith then vowed not to sweep the petitions under the carpet.
In the report, a source at the PSC was quoted to have hinted that the new PSC leadership “cannot ignore the petitions.”
“We are going to critically examine the petitions. It is not going to be a total swipe, those who merit their promotions will retain their ranks,” the source stressed.
To lend credence to the planned demotion exercise, Smith reportedly viewed the weight of the petitions and decided not to treat them with levity.
He subsequently appointed retired Supreme Court Justice, Clara Ogunbiyi, to head a committee responsible for the review of the “lopsided” promotions.
In another Daily Independent report, our source was quoted to have hinted that “the committee had called for the nominal roll of the entire police force.”
“The committee was mandated to review all promotions from 2016 to July 2018,” it added.
Ogunbiyi’s committee was not given a specific time-frame to submit its report, because “of the volume of work; that is why they were not given a time-frame,” the PSC source disclosed.
“They are expected to do a thorough work, so that tomorrow nobody will say he or she was victimised.”
To assure the former IGP Ibrahim Idris that he meant business, Smith stated during a meeting with the police management team that “henceforth, result of performance of officers from appropriate training courses must be attached to the recommendation to the commission for promotion, if not, the recommendation will not be considered.”
The former IGP’s insistence that the demotion shall be carried out to redeem the battered image of the police and to ensure equity in the system, is said to have pitched him against the immediate past IGP Idris.
The development is said to have later snowballed into litigation, as some of the affected officers went to court to stop PSC from carrying out the demotion exercise.
The feud between Idris and Smith reportedly attracted the attention of the House Committee on Police Affairs, which later summoned PSC to defend its planned demotion exercise.
The House of Representatives had earlier mandated the committee to investigate and ascertain the veracity of the allegation bordering on unlawful appointments and promotion of police officers by former IGP Idris.
Apart from the litigation spurned by the demotion plan, the House action also allowed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Frederick Agbedi (PDP Bayelsa).
The motion was titled, ‘Need to investigate the allegations of promotion of police officers by the Inspector-General of Police and the threat of demotion of the officers by the Police Service Commission.”
Agbedi, in his presentation, averred that the IGP had appointed and posted state Commissioners of Police and promoted some officers of the force without recourse to the general promotion guideline of the Police Service Commission.
He added that the development left the commission with no choice but to review the appointment the officers.
Citing section 153(1) of the constitution, Agbedi stated, “There shall be established for the federation, a Police Service Commission saddled with responsibility to appoint and promote persons to offices (other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigeria Police Force.”
He maintained: “The power to appoint, promote, dismiss, and discipline officers of the Nigeria Police Force (other than the Inspector General of Police) falls within the exclusive purview of the Police Service Commission by virtue of the provision of section 153 (1) and paragraphs 30 of the 1999 constitution.
“By virtue of the provision of section 160 (1) of the constitution, the Police Service Commission is empowered to make rules to regulate its own procedures or confer power and impose duties on any officer or authority for the purpose of discharging its function and in the exercise of the power, the Police Service Commission, in 2014, approved the general promotion guideline for the promotion of the officers.”
Ikechukwu Amaechi, spokesman for the PSC, could not be reached for his comment, as he was still at the plenary as at press time.
On his part, Frank Mba, Force Public Relations Officer, said, “It is the Police Service Commission that is responsible.”