By Bukar Bolori
Three former Inspectors-General of Police and a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police are currently lobbying to replace ex-IGP Musiliu Smith as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission.
The former police chiefs, according to sources, have solicited the assistance of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and other top Presidential aides for consideration for the top job.
Smith, who assumed office on July 25, 2018, alongside other commissioners, was supposed to complete his five-year tenure in July, 2023, but he resigned on health grounds about two weeks ago.
His tenure was however marred by a face-off with the police authorities over the recruitment of police constables.
A retired Supreme Court Justice who is Commissioner 1 in the commission, Clara Ogunbiyi, has since taken over in acting capacity.
A senior official said, ‘’There is intense lobbying for the position of PSC chairman. The candidates have been soliciting the support of the AGF, SGF and other top government officials in the Presidency. But the odds favour the DIG who has the ears of the AGF.”‘
The source added that: “As we speak, one of the candidates is in New York to meet with President Buhari where the deal would be sealed. On his return to the country, the retired police officer may be announced as the new chairman of the commission. The development is causing tension among the PSC workers because they fear that the situation that pervaded the agency under Smith would continue if another retired IG is appointed as the chairman.’’
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has listed for hearing the police appeal against the Court of Appeal judgment which affirmed the PSC’s constitutional mandate to recruit constables.
It was learnt that the case which had been abandoned for about two years has been dusted up and is now slated for hearing at the Supreme Court early next month. In a unanimous judgment on September 30, 2020, a three-man panel of the appellate court led by Justice Olabisi Ige, held that the IGP lacked the power to make the recruitment for the police force.
The court held that the power to carry out the recruitment was exclusively that of the Police Service Commission.The judgment overturned the December 2, 2019 verdict of a Federal High court in Abuja which upheld the powers of the IGP to carry out the recruitment of 10,000 constables.
The PSC spokesman, Ikechukwu Ani, confirmed the development, adding that the police appeal would be heard in October.It was gathered that the acting PSC chairman, Ogunbiyi recently attempted to meet with IG Usman Baba and the Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi to resolve the recruitment crisis.
A source told our correspondent that: ‘’The retired justice wrote a letter to the IGP to ask for a meeting so that the legal issues around the constables recruitment could be ironed out but the police boss in his reply said the date she suggested for the meeting was not convenient, but he did not propose alternative dates as expected.
‘’What is playing out is that the police authorities did not want to subject themselves to civilian supervision and control; they don’t want to be accountable and that is why the commission workers are against the appointment of another retired IG as chairman.
”There has been consistently violation by successive administrations to align to the recommendation of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms which admonished the government to ‘’appoint only civilians with non-police and non-military background as the commission chairman to avoid the risk of conflict of interest.’’