GENTLEMEN of the Fourth Estate of the Realm, we called for this media briefing on a Sunday which ought to be our rest day but it is because of the gravity of the issues that worry us as a platform for the promotion of civil liberties of Nigerians and working for the enthronement of good governance in Nigeria that instigated this patriotic intervention. The essence of constitutional democracy is the defence of the fundamental rights of the citizens as encapsulated in chapter 4 of the grund norm
We are disturbed by the unprecedented rise in the cases of professional misconduct and indiscipline amongst the ranks and file of the Nigerian police force and the attendant adverse consequences on the enjoyment of the fundamental human rights of the citizens.
We call your attention to the numerous cases of police extrajudicial executions all across Nigeria. Recently in Port Harcourt a group of mechanics were rounded up by the police and physically tortured even as one of them was shot dead by the Nigerian police force whilst in detention.
In Enugu, a human rights activist probing the case of sexual violations of a teenager by a sun of a rich man was physically molested by the police as already documented by the group of HUMAN RIGHTS activists led by Professor Joy Ezeilo.
In the FCT there have been at least three major cases of police extralegal killings at the checkpoint since last year and these killers in police uniforms are roaming the streets free.
Whereas cases of professional misconduct by the police operatives are on the rise phenomenally and the hierarchy seems not to be bothered about all of these, there is a more sinister issue that worries us and should worry all Nigerians. This is the near dead situation of the POLICE SERVICE COMMISSIONwhich is the OMBUDSMAN that ought to check the excess of the police. This body is busy engaging in a war of attrition with the POLICE INSPECTOR GENERAL over who has the right to recruit constables. Whilst they are in court struggling for supremacy, individual cases of indiscipline amongst NPF operatives and officers are seemingly unattended to or swept under the carpets of impunity against the extant powers and functions that the POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION is imbued with by the Nigerian Constitution as an independent commission and the extant POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION ACT which clearly spell out their functions and powers as follows:
FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF THE COMMISSION
6. – (1) The Commission shall-
(a) 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:
(b) Dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over persons (other than the Inspector-General of Police) in the Nigerian Police Force;
(c) Formulate policies and guidelines for the appointment, promotion, discipline and dismissal of officers of the Nigerian Police Force;
(d) Identify factors inhibiting or undermining discipline in the Nigeria Police Force;
(e) Formulate and implement policies aimed at the efficiency and discipline to the Nigeria Police Force;
(f) Perform such other functions which in the opinion of the Commission are required to ensure the optimal efficiency of the Nigeria Police Force; and
(g) Carry out such other functions as the President may, from time to time, direct.
(2) The Commission shall not be subject to the direction, control or supervision of any other authority or person in performance of its functions other than as is prescribed in this Act.
7. The Commission shall have power to-
(a) Pay the staff of the Commission such remuneration and allowances as are payable to persons of equivalent grades in the
Civil Service of the Federation;
(b) Enter into such contracts as may be necessary or expedient for the discharge of its functions and ensure the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission; and
(c) Do such other things as are necessary and expedient for the efficient performance of the functions of the Commission.
8. The Commission may, subject to such conditions as it may think fit, Powers of the delegate any of its powers under this Act- delegation
(a) To any officer in the service of the Nigeria Police Force; or
(b) To a Committee consisting of such number of persons, one of whom shall be named as Chairman, as may be prescribed by the Commission.
PART III-STRUCTURE OF THE COMMISSION
9. – (1) There shall be establishment in the headquarters of the Commission the following Departments-
(a) The Department of Administration and Personnel Management;
(b) the Department of Investigation;
(c) The Department of Finance and Supply;
(d) The Department of Planning, Research and Statistics; and
(e) The Department of Legal Services.
Establishment of Departments
Functions of the Commission
Powers of the Commission.
Gentlemen, we appeal to Nigerians that they need to ensure that the PSC must not be allowed to die. We had for instance forwarded a petition to the Police Service Commission since October last year from some group of people in Enugu who had called for the removal of ACP FIDELIS OGAREBE from Enugu state police command for alleged violations of their human rights and for interfering in the enjoyment of their right to own property.
But the PSC has not bothered to respond or even asked that those who raised the allegations should show up to back their allegations with facts with a view to providing redress. We waited for three Months before writing a REMINDER LETTER ABOUT THESE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A SERVING POLICE OFFICER. The below are the wordings of the allegations made by the persons who sent series of petitions to our desk which we have since forwarded to all relevant authorities for their action.
They said as follows: “We write to call your attention to the urgent need to remove ACP FIDELIS OGAREBE, the current Assistant Commissioner of police , Criminal intelligence and investigation Department, Enugu state on numerous ground worthy of consideration, in line with equality, good conscience and effective policing under the regulations of Nigeria police force.
Our forum has observed with dismay and great concern, that ACP FIDELIS OGAREBE has been serving in Enugu state police command
Since 1996 when he was commissioned into the Nigeria police force till date without being posted to any other state or geo-political zone in line with the regular practices in the force . The over stay of the ACP in Enugu state has led to the manifestation of a number of disturbing issues putting the security of lives and property in the state at risk -something our forum deems expedient to call your attention to ; in the spirit of patriotism. Among these issues are dispositions that inhibit People’s access to justice, unlawful exercise of authority and tacit support for oppression.
It is the observation of our forum that the ACP has unprofessionally attached himself to some royal personalities within the state who are given to the oppression of their subjects and less privileged members of their communities for the goal of underserved and coerced submission. As a result, communal and individual lands are converted, disposed of allegedly and the proceeds there from allegedly diverted and allegedly shared amongst themselves for their selfish and personal gains. Numerous cases from Akpugo, Nike, Ugwuaji, Umuede Achi, Amechi-Uwani, Awkunanaw, Abor and a host of other communities in the state are pointers in this regards. Other parts of the state are not spared from this trouble as almost every community in the state has lost parcels of land in this royal- styled battle facilitated allegedly by the ACP.
To our chagrin, we have observed that the citizens of the state find it difficult to get justice whenever they report cases at the command, as the CIID section would do everything possible to confer the “Igwes” with automatic ownership over whatever disputed lands. Resistant complainants are detained baselessly, in an attempt to intimidate them to run away from the issue. Investigation at the State CIID by dauntless and dispassionate officers from your office would reveal the number of villagers who suffer this fate on a daily basis.
Sir, you would recall the purported protest and ultimatum to the office of the IGP by a Student’s union in Enugu state for the removal of the then Commissioner of Police, Mr. Suleiman Balarabe, which many security and political analysts believed to have informed the decision of the IGP to redeploy the CP and to replace him with CP Ahmed Abdulrahman. Our findings incontrovertibly prove that the protest against Mr. Balarabe was stage-managed and orchestrated allegedly by the ACP because the then CP reportedly refused to accede to his whims and caprices (these are subject to investigation). Virtually all commissioners of Police posted to Enugu state from the ACP’s days as CSO,Enugu state government ho use somehow become subjugated to him. His bindings, however illegal, must be done invariably.
It is therefore the understanding of our Forum that ACP FIDELIS OGAREBE, the AC CIID, Enugu state has stayed for far too long in the state which is naturally against the ethos of professionalism that the Nigerian Police Force has been known for. Besides the pointed-out security Laguna created by the negative development of the ACP’s overstay, familiarity and acquaintances with criminals in the state, he has the tendency of buying up the security structures thereby inducing compromise as herein above illustrated. Senior officers of the Force are reshuffled and redeployed to instill a sense of versatility and professionalism in personnel of the Force in service, but the case of the ACP has defied this logic, wisdom and spirit. The citizens in Enugu state now die in silence because no one is bold enough to speak.
It is in view of the above circumstances and the stance of our Forum in assisting the Nigeria Police Force in fighting illegality, corruption and indiscipline that we deem it proper and apt to make this call by way of petition for your consideration, investigation and prompt action, in the right direction. We are aware that ACP Ogarabe has friends in high places and would deploy his resources to resist any attempt to have him redeployed, but his record of service and diaries would refute him without difficulty.
Accordingly sir, we do hope that your respected office will act on this, to save potential victims as well as innocent citizens of Nigeria from further trauma and injustice occasioned by the activities of the ACP.
Conclusively, we pray you to redeploy ACP Ogarebe from Enugu state as well as cause a discreet investigation into his activities from his days as the CSO to the governor till the day of his redeployment.
Please accept our esteemed regards. For: The Forum
EMEKA EMMANUEL NNAJI
PRINCIPAL OBSERVER.CHIEF IKEM OKORO; SECRETARY
We appeal to Nigerians through the media to call on the National Assembly and President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION is not systematically killed because as it is, the mounting cases of police indiscretions could lead to people taking the law into their hands if they can’t find redress whenever their human rights are wantonly violated. It is in the self-enlightened interests of all Nigerians that the POWERS AND FUNCTIONS OF POLICE SERVICE COMMISSION are not undermined by power seeking persons. The Governing Board of the PSC must wake up and defend the integrity and powers of the PSC.
* Emmanuel Onwubiko heads Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria