A pro-democracy and non-governmental organization – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari not to be stampeded or hoodwinked by political forces to commit the illegality of dissolving the governing board of police service commission (PSC).
HURIWA’s warning came against the backdrop of a purported petition to the secretary to the government of the federation (SGF) Mr. Boss Mustapha by a Lagos based group – civil society network against corruption (CSNAC) asking that the chairman of police service commission Mr. Mike Mbama Okiro, a retired Inspector General of Police be stopped from parading about as head of the Police Commission.
But HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) in a written presentation submitted today to the secretary to the government of the federation completely ruled out the legal validity of the so-called dissolution of the police service commission’s board as insinuated by the Lagos Non-governmental group, submitting that constitutionally the presidency has no power to dissolve a board recognized in the constitution and whose statutory tenure will run till June 2018.
Asking President Buhari not to be dragged into another unnecessary constitutional crisis by the misguided and misdirected petition against the Mike Okiro – led police commission, the Rights group cited several sections of the Nigerian constitution to unambiguously establish that political dissolution of boards of certain Federal Executive Commissions listed in chapter 6 of the constitution including PSC, is legally null and void and of no consequence.
CSNAC had in its petition stated thus: “It is with grave concern that the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) view the contemptuous disregard of the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari as conveyed by your office on the 29th December 2017, dissolving the board of Police Service Commission (PSC) among others, headed by retired Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, by his continued stay in office and performing functions of the office despite the composition of a new board”.
But HURIWA sent a counter position paper to President Buhari through the office of the secretary to the government of the federation and argued that contrary to the position of CSNAC, Mr. Okiro – led board of PSC can’t be arbitrarily dissolved but the constitutional tenure of 5 years will elapsed in June 2018.
The position paper of HURIWA states thus:
“It has come to our attention that a Lagos based non-governmental organization known as the civil society network against corruption which goes with the acronym of CSNAC purportedly petitioned to your desk demanding the immediate cessation of functions by the IGP. Mike Okiro’s (rtd) – led governing board of the Nigeria’s police service commission (PSC)”.
“As one of the most credible civil society organizations that has been in existence for over ten years, we have worked actively and vigorously around the thematic areas of good governance monitoring and we have consistently organized workshops and undertaken advocacy activities targeted at the promotion, protection and nurturing of constitutionalism. We are vanguards and conscience of the nation because of the conviction of the members numbering over eight thousand and still growing, that the ordinary citizens must vigilantly watch over the democratization process and to safeguard our valued democratic tradition of constitutionalism from all impurities and tendencies to corrupt the political and legal systems to massage personal ego”.
“So this shocking petition from the Lagos group which is absolutely bereft of logic and lacking substantially in ethical and law-based foundations has made our group to rise to the occasion and to quickly write to your good offices to remind you that as a lawyer of many years standing, that it is incumbent and indeed imperative upon your good offices to adhere strictly to the spirit, letter and operational import of statutory legislations as it concerns the independence of the governing board of the constitutionally covered commission like the police service commission. We are still in trepidation and considerable shock on why this group coordinated by a well-known civil society actor resorted to hatching this self-serving petition. It is out of malice or mischief? Only time shall tell”.
“As you may be aware, there are several provisions in the chapter 6 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of 1999 (as amended) which act as effective buffer and safeguards against undue interference in the affairs or tenures of such independent executive bodies such as the police service commission which is to our considered opinion, the victim of outright media intimidation by this Lagos based non-governmental organization”.
“Section 153 (1) and (2): “(1) There shall be established for the Federation the following bodies, namely -: Code of Conduct Bureau; Council of State; Federal character commission; Federal judicial service commission; Independent National Electoral Commission; National Defence council; National Economic Council; National Judicial Council; National Population Commission; National Security Council; Nigeria Police Council; Police Service Commission; and Revenue mobilization allocation and fiscal commission; (2) The composition and powers of each body established by subsection (1) of this section are as contained in part 1 of the Third Schedule to this Constitution”.
“Specifically, section 157 (1) makes the police service commission amongst a few other bodies constitutionally and operationally independent.
Section 157 (1): Subject to the provisions of subsection (3) of this section, a person holding any of the offices to which this section applies may only be removed from that office by the President acting on an address supported by two-thirds majority of the Senate praying that he be so removed for inability to discharge the functions of the office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct”.
“Besides, section 155 (1) (c) states the tenure thus: “(1) A person who is a member of any of the bodies established as aforesaid shall, subject to the provisions of this part, remain a member thereof, (c) in the case of a person who is a member otherwise than as ex officio member or otherwise than by virtue of his having previously held an office, for a period of five years from the date of his appointment”.
“Section 157 (1) of the constitution goes to the issue of the critical independence granted these bodies and to guide against undue interference just as this provision specifically rules out the possibility of the board of police service commission being politically dissolved by the President as being insinuated by CSNAC”.
“The current board constitutionally can only vacate offices in June 2018”.
“Sir, we humbly write this position paper to urge you not to capitulate to the politically motivated temptation of using your good offices to misdirect the President and to coerce him not to abide by the clear provisions of both the constitution and the enabling Act specifying functions and tenure of the PSC. By the way, the provision of the constitution is supreme in the event that a grey area exists, assuming without conceding that it is so. We expected the founding Chairman of CSNAC as a stakeholder in the democratic process to be at the forefront of the crusade to guide against executive lawlessness and any atom of rascality”.
“However, CSNAC knows why they are clearly out to misguide your good offices only because they don’t like the face of the ex-inspector General of Police Mr. Mike Okiro (rtd)”.
“We pray you to be properly guided and to maintain decorum as a sound lawyer and astute administrator that you have always being”.
“May we also inform you that as a nation, we are at a crossroads in the nation building process and it will do a whole lot of harm to the growth and advancement of constitutional democracy should the current administration which ought to subscribe to the constitution be used as an instrument for decimating and disrespecting extant legal provisions unambiguously written in black and white in one of the most readers’ friendly Constitutions in contemporary times”.
“There are already insinuations that Mr. President is in breach of certain constitutional provisions such as the Federal character principle (in appointments) and the alleged flagrant breach of section 6 of the constitution following successful bail orders granted certain accused person such as erstwhile national security adviser and the leader of Shiites Islamic movement who are still being detained against what the law says”.
“After a thorough reflection of the above petition, we hereby pray your good offices to throw this petition written out of political half- truths and possible case of ‘vendetta’ to the dustbin of history”.
“We have followed through the trajectories of the PSC and the numerous petitions authored in the past by CSNAC against the chairman of PSC and we are left with the inevitable conclusion that this particular petition may not have been done altruistically and thereby should be jettisoned”.
“It is a notorious fact that in the past this group has written several unsustainable petitions against the PSC under Mike Okiro thereby confirming that the latest is just a repetition of a pattern aimed at scoring personal grudge that can only be explained by CSNAC”.