This will also be in line with the recent Appeal Court ruling reaffirming the constitutional and statutory powers of the PSC to recruit.
Some civil society organisations have commended the National Assembly's move to amend the Police Service Commission Act 2001, urging the lawmakers to make the review process transparent to accommodate all the necessary stakeholders.
This was contained in a statement jointly signed by groups: Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre, Partners West Africa- Nigeria, Spaces for Change, Confluence of Rights, COMPPART Foundation for Justice and Peace building, and Network on Police Reform in Nigeria.
The groups stated that if the law is reviewed, it would enhance the effectiveness of the Police Service Commission.
In the release obtained by SaharaReporters on Friday, the groups said, “We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Nigeria, welcome the initiative by the National Assembly (NASS) to review the Police Service Commission (PSC) Establishment Act 2001. It is a welcome, albeit, long overdue, initiative which provides opportunity for civil society and other stakeholders to make fundamental inputs grounded on the overriding goal of preserving and enhancing the institutional effectiveness and credibility of the PSC.
“We believe that the process of the amendment must be transparent and inclusive and accord all stakeholders equal opportunity to make input into the amendment Bill with a view to ensuring that the amendments achieve the goal of strengthening the PSC and making it effective in fulfilling its mandates, especially of oversight and discipline. We must also ensure that the amendments reinforce, rather than contradict, the Police Act.
“Our concerns centre round the following crucial issues: 1. The appointment of a retired Inspector-General of Police (IGP) as Chairman of the PSC. 2. The capacity of the commission to handle investigations: what kinds of complaints the PSC should be saddled with going forward, and the necessity or otherwise of making the commission more specialized, focused and targeted by narrowing its mandates.
“3 How the ongoing review can promote PSC collaboration and coordination with other oversight agencies, rather than competition or conflicts, and 4. The need to permanently resolve the lingering and contentious issue of police recruitment which has been a source of unhealthy and deleterious rivalry between the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the PSC.
“Debate over the ineffectiveness, inefficiency and poor performance of the PSC is not new and there has not been want of recommendations on how to make the commission more effective in the discharge of its mandates.
“The 2012 the CSO Panel on Police Reform recommended some measures to strengthen the PSC as an oversight mechanism. They include: 1. The PSC should be strengthened and provided with adequate resources to establish its presence across the country.
“2. Establish a department responsible for investigation of public complaints against the police (particularly cases of corruption, rape, torture and extrajudicial killing) and stop sending such petitions back to the police for investigation. 3. The process of appointing the chairperson and members of the PSC should be transparent and rigorous in order to ensure that only qualified persons are appointed.
“We welcome the initiative by the NASS to amend the PSC Act, 2001 and it is our hope that some of the crucial, recurring reform measures recommended by different government and non-government bodies would be reflected in the amendment to strengthen the Commission and secure its role as civilian credible and effective oversight and accountability mechanism. The PSC evinced under the Constitution and the PSC Act of 2001 is an independent and impartial institution. Such an institution is worth fighting for.
“Civil society welcomes the inclusion, in the amendment Bill, of a provision that seeks to expressly prohibit the appointment of any retired police officer, military or para-military outfit as Chairman of the Commission.
“The relevance and capacity of the commission as a civilian oversight and accountability mechanism to discharge its statutory roles is brought to question by the appointment of a retired Inspector-General of Police.
“Ultimately, we call for: 1. A PSC that has adequate powers to carry out comprehensive investigations of police abuse. 2. A PSC that is sufficiently independent from the police and the government. 3. A PSC that is adequately resourced. 4. A PSC that operates transparently and reports regularly. 5. A PSC that has the support of the public and the government and involves civil society in its work. 6. A PSC that has operational independence, security of tenure for its Chairman and Commissioned and financial stability to carry out its functions.
“The lingering dispute between the PSC and the NPF overpower of recruitment. We, in the CSOs, believe that the dispute between the PSC and the NPF over which of the agencies has the statutory power to recruit cadet constables and cadet ASPs, which has lingered for over two years is needless and deleterious.
“We note that there is a subsisting High Court judgment that the provision of the Police Act 2020 which transferred the power of recruitment from the PSC to the NPF is unconstitutional. We urge the NASS to preserve the PSC’s power to recruit as contained in both the constitution and the PSC establishment Act. This will also be in line with the recent Appeal Court ruling reaffirming the constitutional and statutory powers of the PSC to recruit. We also urge the NASS to drop the constitutional proposal to transfer the powers of recruitment from the PSC to the police.
“The standoff between the PSC and the NPF has stalled police recruitment for over two years, leaving the NPF with a serious manpower shortfall.
“With a well-funded and empowered PSC, having functional and professionalized Departments handling different aspects of its OVERSIGHT and ACCOUNTABILITY functions – all coordinated by a cerebral Chairman (efficiently assisted by a dedicated team of Commissioners and technocrats), Nigeria would have announced herself fit and ready for Policing that will meet international best practices.”