Should the National Assembly be given powers to hire and fire IGP?
Chief Rafiu Balogun (Ex- National Legal Adviser, Nigerian Bar Association)
My humble view is that it is not feasible and plausible to empower the National Assembly to hire and fire the Inspector-General of Police.
In the first place, such a law or Act of the National Assembly will infringe on the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which vested the executive powers in the Executive, legislative powers in the Legislature and judicial powers in the Judiciary. This can be verified from Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
By virtue of Section 4(2) of the 1999 Constitution the National Assembly shall have power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation but the issue is that can they now make a law conferring the NASS with powers to appoint and fire the IGP? That will naturally violate the principle of Separation of Powers and checks and balances since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The National Assembly will abuse the powers and appoint their cronies as IGP to do their bidding. No doubt, it will be politicised. Our politicians are still at their teething age; it is very sad that we are still where we are today.
Constitutionally, it is the Executive that implements policies and uses Executive powers and implements the laws while the Judiciary interprets the laws and settles disputes. The National Assembly cannot make the laws and implement them at the same time. If we agree to empower NASS to do so, it must be by tinkering with the Constitution and the relevant laws. And they will also implement the law by appointing the IGP. Certainly, it will breed corruption and abuse of office. Who will check the National Assembly if they make a wrong choice of the IGP? Or are we to make laws for the Executive to screen the IGP before appointment? It will be preposterous and turn logic on its head if the Executive now performs the function of the Legislature.
The procedure that the Executive nominates and the Legislature screens and confirms the appointment of the IGP is sufficient. Section 215 (1) of the 1999 Constitution is quite clear that the IGP shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force. To my mind, the procedure is fair enough and the Acting IGP will be confirmed by the National Assembly.
Mr Harrison Osenum (An Abuja -based legal practitioner)
The constitutional duty of the legislature is to make laws while the duty of the executive is to implement laws. The IG is an officer under the executive arm of government and his duty is to enforce the laws passed by the legislative arm.
For the principle of Separation of Powers which is the bastion of our fledgling democracy to be institutionalised, the appointment of the IG should be done by the executive arm of government. However, any person so nominated by the executive must be made to appear before the Senate, who, after interviewing such a candidate, will make further recommendation to the whole House, who will then vote to confirm or reject same to the President, who nominated him or her as the case may be.
In line with the recent agitation by various political groups across the country, one needs to state without mincing word that the IGP wields too much power that borders on gross abuse of same.
One might need to align with the groundswell of agitations for decentralisation of policing in Nigeria. As obtainable across the globe, the task of policing should be localised. This will make the people to trust the policemen knowing full well that they are indigenes or residents of the area where they are serving rather than the present system of bringing people who are not familiar with an area to police such an area whose terrain and culture they know nothing about.
Although one cannot completely rule out the issue of abuse by these policemen, same will be reduced to the barest minimum if the law enforcement agents are well-known in the areas they police.
Ebelechukwu Enedah (Partner, PUNUKA Attorneys and Solicitors)
Our constitution already provides for how the Inspector-General of Police should be appointed. It is the President that will appoint based on advice from the council. The constitution also gives the National Assembly the powers to make laws for the good governance of the country; they should concentrate on their core functions and they can make use of these powers to check excesses.
They shouldn’t be involved in actual nomination because it would give room for corruption. They shouldn’t be given that power except we want to start changing our constitution and I am not sure that is needful. The powers they have been given to regulate they should use it. They can, for example, specify the tenure of office of the IGP.
The Police Act which is a product of the National Assembly is there; they can amend sections they feel are necessary to make the police more effective but they should not begin to dabble into the issue of appointments which is an executive function.
Dr Junaid Mohammed (Ex-federal lawmaker)
They do not have such powers; they should not be given such powers. Giving lawmakers such powers will be against the principle of separation of powers because such appointments fall within the executive functions. Appointing the Inspector-General of Police or any of the service chiefs is an executive function.
They will just be wasting their time if they want to take over such powers from the executive because they will have the constitution to contend with.
Let us look at this issue dispassionately, even where anarchists are in charge of government, they do not confer the power to appoint any officer on the legislature. The executive appoints, theirs is only to screen to confirm the eligibility or otherwise of the candidate.
The framers of our constitution who followed the tradition of constitutional democracies elsewhere know for a fact that unless you have a clear definition of powers and attendant responsibilities for each arm of government, you are not practising democracy.
Since we have elected to practise democracy, members of the National Assembly must abide by the tenets of democracy by sticking to their constitutional roles of serving as the checks to executive excesses.
Senator Danladi Sankara (Ex-federal lawmaker)
It will be improper to give executive powers to the legislature. If we give the Senate the power to hire and fire the Inspector-General of Police then we will not be practising democracy. Where is the place of separation of powers? Are we not the same people talking about the independence of the various arms of government? The way it is today is appropriate; the President appoints/ nominates, the Senate screens and confirms his nominee.
The Senate and the House of Representatives also have powers of oversight on the police. If you now say they should appoint, where does that leave their powers of oversight? We should not look at our present situation and say because we have issues with an IGP we should change our laws. The President’s power to appoint should not be taken away from him because it is an executive function.
This is even more so at a time we have a President in the person of Muhammadu Buhari who is more concerned about Nigeria’s progress and leaving behind a legacy. Our legislators will do well to use their constitutional powers and the Electoral Act, to make adjustments where there is a need to do so.
We must begin to build institutions in the true sense of it. The police should be insulated from political interference.