HURIWA decries illegality in police promotions
The recent promotions within the Nigerian Police Force have come under scrutiny from the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), which has raised concerns about the legality of the process.
HURIWA expressed worry over the absence of a legally constituted board for the Police Service Commission (PSC), responsible for overseeing promotions, deeming the recent promotions unconstitutional and potentially violating the rule of law.
Of particular concern to HURIWA is the promotion of top-ranking officers, including the elevation of Adamawa State Police Commissioner Adeniyi Afolabi, who was allegedly implicated in attempts to disrupt the 2023 gubernatorial election in the state.
Afolabi’s promotion to Assistant Inspector General (AIG) rank has sparked outrage from HURIWA. Similarly, the rights group pointed out the advancement of Haruna Gabriel Garba, Commissioner of Police in the Federal Capital Territory, who faced criticism for failing to curb the surge in kidnappings in Abuja to the rank of AIG.
The rights group in a statement said, “The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has witnessed a concerning surge in insecurity, with over 87 residents killed and 176 kidnapped since CP Haruna G. Garba assumed office on May 2nd, 2023. Beacon Consulting, a local security monitoring firm, and media reports on violent attacks provided the figures. The capital city once considered immune to prevalent security challenges, is now grappling with an escalating wave of criminal activities, particularly kidnapping.
“Under the tenure of CP Haruna G. Garba since May 2023, violent attacks in the FCT have risen, prompting alarm among residents and authorities. The region, once ranked 11th for frequent abductions in a 2020 report by SB Morgen, has witnessed close to 50 kidnap cases involving over 200 persons over the last three years. Notably, between January 2021 and June 2023, there were approximately 40 recorded cases with 236 victims. From October to December 2023 alone, 13 kidnap incidents occurred, impacting 80 victims.
“These incidents are widespread across various areas in Abuja, including Gwagwalada Kuje, Lugbe, Pegi, Abaji, Keti, and Kwali. The concerning aspect is the apparent unchallenged nature of these incidents by security agencies, allowing criminal elements to operate with impunity.
“Notable recent incidents include the abduction of seven persons, including six girls, on January 5, 2024, in the Bwari Area Council. On January 18, the wife and in-law of lawyer Cyril Adikwu were abducted in the Kurudu area of Abuja. Another abduction occurred on January 7, 2024, where armed men kidnapped 12 individuals from an estate in the Bwari area.
“On December 12, 2023, 23 residents of the Dei-Dei community in the Bwari area were abducted, including a nursing mother and three children. Additionally, an Abuja-based musician and his band members were kidnapped on December 18, 2023, and two persons were abducted in the Mpape area on July 16, 2023.
“These incidents, which underscore the urgent need for enhanced security measures and effective responses to address the growing insecurity in the FCT, ensuring the safety and well-being of residents have raised questions about the criteria used for these promotions, particularly promoting a Commissioner of Police who couldn’t address security situations to the rank of AIG.”
HURIWA highlighted that the Police Service Commission lacks a quorum and a legally constituted board.
“The Commission, tasked with overseeing the promotions, lacks a quorum and a legally constituted board. As per Section 29(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, the Commission should consist of not less than 7 or more than 9 members, yet the current composition falls short of the stipulated number.
“The composition of the Commission, as per the Establishment Act, includes a Chairman, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, a retired Police Officer not below the rank of Commissioner of Police, and representatives from various interest groups. However, many of these positions are vacant or filled by individuals whose tenures have expired, leaving the oversight body practically non-functional, as the only valid board members are Chairman, Dr. Solomon E. Arase who was recently appointed, and Hon. Chief Onyemuche Nnamani representing the South East,” HURIWa explained.
While stressing the breach of constitutional provisions mandating oversight and transparency, HURIWA argued that the recent police promotions violated the principles of merit-based advancements within the force.
Referring to Section 155(i)(c) of the Constitution, which empowers the President and the Senate to appoint and confirm Commission members, HURIWA contended that the failure to maintain an active Commission infringes upon citizens’ constitutional rights to a policing system adhering to the rule of law
In addition, expressing grave concern over the potential erosion of public trust in the police force, HURIWA hinted at the possibility of challenging the recent promotions in court. The organization stated that the promotions, lacking proper oversight, are tantamount to the police promoting themselves, which undermines the principles of justice and fairness.
HURIWA, therefore called on the Nigerian government to urgently reconstitute the Police Service Commission Board, ensuring that it is fully representative and capable of performing its critical oversight functions. The organization insisted that the rule of law must prevail, and any breach in the constitutional processes should be rectified to restore confidence in the police force.
As the nation grapples with rising insecurity and criminal activities, HURIWA underscored the importance of a robust and legally constituted oversight mechanism to guide promotions within the police force. The organization asserted that it would remain steadfast in its commitment to upholding the principles of justice, human rights, and the rule of law in Nigeria.