ICPC’s Indictment Of Police Service Commission Chair Enough Warrant To Vacate Office

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on the 11th of August 2015 ordered the Police Service Commission (PSC) led by Mike Mbama Okiro, its Chairman, to refund to the government treasury the sum of N133.4 million out of the N350 million it received from the Federal Government for the monitoring of the conduct of the 2015 elections. The investigation carried out by the 1CPC was based on a petition brought by one Mr. Aaron Kaase, a staff of the PSC. The petition alleged acts of corruption, abuse of office and fraudulent acts to swindle the PSC to the tune of N275.5 million on the part of the chairman of the PSC.

ICPC’s Conclusions Flawed

First, the ICPC’s conclusion on the petitions against the PSC Chairman was quite unsatisfactory and its logic flawed. The Commission found, as a fact, that money had been misappropriated by the PSC. The Commission said:

“The Police Service Commission (PSC) received the sum of N350 million from the Federal Government to monitor the conduct of police personnel in the recently conducted general election. The Commission budgeted–to expend the fund on training and physical monitoring during the election. Investigation findings revealed that the Commission budgeted for training of 900 staff to conduct training in Abuja, Lagos and Kano. However, the entire staff force was not more that 391 and that is the figure actually trained in a programme held in Abuja only… “

Judging from the ICPC’s statement, it is fairly evident that, from the start, an intention to misappropriate funds was clearly incubated, set in motion, and manifest when the Commission projected to train 509 more staff than it actually had; in other words, the Commission received training monies for a large retinue of “ghost staff”. Those preparatory steps were subsequently consummated: the Commission got taxpayer monies based upon the misrepresentations it made, and held on to the money that remained afterwards. As the ICPC found, the Police Service Commission even knowingly paid its staff based in Abuja return air ticket money for a programme that held in Abuja, yet another fraud! How these corrupt practices and deceptions could come to be characterized by the ICPC as merely “administrative in nature and within the ambits of career public servants handlings” is baffling. It may be recalled that in 2008, a former Minister and Senator were arraigned and prosecuted for failing to return unspent funds in their Ministries/Committees to the government’s coffers. The ICPC’s working definition of criminal corruption sets our alarm bells ringing; it is clearly too flawed and deficit to help Nigeria’s war against corruption. If there were no criminal acts committed, it becomes open to question the business of the ICPC in ordering the PSC to refund money. The ICPC’s mandate, it may be said, extends only to the investigation and prosecution of acts that constitute corrupt practices.

Indictment Is Enough Warrant to Leave Office

Notwithstanding this, the findings made by the ICPC reach the thresholds for demanding that the PSC Chair vacates office immediately. The PSC is responsible for the disciplinary control of police officers and for ensuring that police officers comply with all police laws and regulations, including those on corruption.

The Police Service Commission cannot be indulging in an entrenched pattern of malfeasance and misappropriations and remain positioned to discharge its constitutional mandate of fighting corruption or abuse of power within the police force or sanctioning police officers guilty of corruption or misconduct. Its leadership has brought upon the Commission a huge credibility crisis, and degraded its moral authority too much to be able to effectively hold police officers accountable for misconduct, although, it must be pointed out, that not much oversight appeared to have been taking place prior to this time. Where the PSC cannot effectively perform its oversight disciplinary responsibilities, a huge disciplinary and control gap will be created within the Nigerian police force, which will, consequently, further entrench and facilitate systematic corruption within the institution. The continuance of the present incumbent of the office of the Chairman of the Police Service Commission is, therefore, no longer tenable. It is in the best interest of the body and for the sake of preserving the PSC’s ability to effectively perform its constitutional duties, that we are therefore demanding that he vacate the office now.

Joseph Otteh                                 Okechukwu Nwanguma
Executive Director                          Network on Police Reforms in Nigeria (NOPRIN)