Police ₦16.8b recruitment plan: the battle for official largesse

The current brouhaha rocking the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and its Service Commission in the recruitment of 10,000 constables has somewhat shown what the real battle is all about. This is a total contrast to the cheers from the College of Policing in the United Kingdom that greeted the recent plans by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recruit 20,000 new police officers.

A publication by PUNCH newspapers last week that the NPF obtained a presidential approval October 2018 to spend N16.8b on the recruitment might have actually shed light on the legal battle between the NPF and the Police Service Commission (PSC) for the control of the exercise.

According to the newspaper, the immediate-past Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, presented a budget proposal of N16.8b to President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, for the recruitment of 15,000 constables. Mr. Kyari, however, gave approval for the recruitment of 10,000 constables rather than the proposed 15,000.

Official Largesse
The items in the proposal for which funding was required were advertisement (N12.42m); technical resources (ICT domain configuration & processing of applicants’ data) (N12.41m); overhead expenditure (N458.92m) and General Medical Examinations/JAMB CEBIT/Aptitude Tests (N550m).

They also included maintenance of facilities at police training institutions (N288.29m); feeding of trainees (N8.21b); allowances and salaries of trainees (N1.62b); clothing & accoutrement (uniforms & kits) (N1.34b); teaching and technical aids (N424.46m); indoor shooting range (modern intelligent automated hybrid range – PCI, PCK, PCM & PCO) (N1.03b) and teaching allowances for training/support staff (N283.41m).

The rest are monitoring and evaluation of training, combat operations & citizenship/leadership course (N1.16b); gas cooker and tank (including refilling) for police training institutions (N154.17m); Federal Character Commission (DTA) (N108.1m); fumigation of 19 police training institutions (N258m) and clinic & medical expenses for trainees (N75m).

The total cost implication was put at N16,839,645,648.25.

One would have thought that recruitment in the NPF –with weak staff strength of about 400,000 in a country of about 200 million population –should be part of its ordinary business requiring no presidential approval unless there is a hidden agenda.

More so, recruitment exercise in the Police Force should be in congruent with its Service Commission that was established by law with the responsibility, among other things, to appoint and promote persons to offices in the NPF, other than the office of the Inspector-General of Police.

Court Matters
Documents have now been filed in a suit instituted before the Federal High Court in Abuja in September over the ongoing supremacy battle between the Police Service Commission and the Nigeria Police Force. The suit was instituted by the PSC to pray for a declaration that it was the body with exclusive power to conduct the recruitment.

The NPF, the incumbent IG, Mohammed Adamu, and the Minister of Police Affairs, who were originally joined as respondents to the suit, had opposed the suit, contending that while the PSC had the power to recruit constables, it lacked the power to recruit them.

Among the nine documents filed by the three respondents as exhibits on which they built their defence are the ex-IG’s proposal for the recruitment of the constables sent to the Presidency in September 2018 and the correspondence by Kyari in reply to Idris conveying presidential approval for the recruitment.

Banking on the approval which the ex-IG obtained from Kyari, the respondents stated in their counter-affidavit opposing the PSC’s suit, “It is also known as a fact that the plaintiff (PSC) has never submitted any budget for the purpose of the recruitment of 10,000 police officers of lower cadre to the Minister of Budget and National Planning for review and no such budget from the plaintiff is contained in the 2019 budget of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Latest Court News
The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday adjourned till November 20 for the Police Service Commission to respond to the Attorney-General of the Federation’s counter-affidavit in a suit to stop the recruitment of 10, 000 police officers.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who adjourned the case on the instance of the PSC, said the development was to allow its counsel, Chief Kanu Agabi, to respond to the counter-affidavit.

Justice Ekwo, therefore, adjourned till Nov. 20 for continuation of the matter. Ekwo had, on Nov. 4, ordered the parties in the case to maintain the status quo in respect of the earlier interim order issued against the recruitment.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on Oct. 23, the judge ordered parties in the suit challenging the recruitment to stay any action in the interim. Ekwo held that this was necessary since parties have submitted themselves to court for settlement of the matter.

The judge gave the order after Counsel for the PSC, Barth Ogar, who held brief for Agabi, told Justice Ekwo that in spite of the court’s order restraining the I-G from continuing with the recruitment, the police had gone ahead with the process.