Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria has threatened to mobilise the Nigerian organised Civil Rights community to institute a suit at a competent court of law if, after 78 hours, President Muhammadu Buhari fails to recall the recent approval given for the constitution of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Board of Trustees.
HURIWA described the appointment of retired Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba and others into the board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund as unconstitutional.
The rights group said it was astonished and shocked beyond comprehension that Buhari failed to involve the states in the constitution of the Trust Fund, contrary to widely held views that the Police Force is actually a common agency of all tiers of government.
HURIWA further noted that the President has again breached the federal character principle enshrined in the constitution in the appointment which it described as lopsided.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Petit, on Thursday, the group further noted that it appears a bit insensitive and lopsided to appoint Suleiman Abba as Chairman, from Jigawa State, North West, and also Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, from Sokoto State.
HURIWA’s statement added “Having reviewed the recent appointments made by President Buhari in constituting the NIGERIA POLICE TRUST FUND BOARD OF TRUSTEES, pursuant to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Establishment Act 2019, wishes to make the following observations and comments.
“We believe that appropriate and stable funding of the Nigerian Police Force is of vital importance to the security, wellbeing of Nigerians and a critical step in securing our democracy, civil rule and constitutionalism.
“It is a universal truism that the policing institution of any nation will determine to a substantial extent the collective wellbeing of that sovereign entity and it is the efficiency, effectiveness and result oriented characteristics of such a policing institution that defines the nature of the rule of law of such a nation-state. In effect a strategically disciplined and professional competent policing institution which requires 21st-century compliant tools and personnel that can qualify a nation-state as functional and fit for purpose.
“We were one of the most committed and patriotic Civil Rights organisations that championed the passage of the law that culminated in the emergence of this August body, we, therefore, support the concept of a dedicated and transparent funding mechanism for the Nigeria Police Force as represented by the Nigeria Police Trust Fund.
“We are however astonished and shocked beyond comprehension, that in constituting this Trust Fund, there is no attempt to involve the states of the federation. Contrary to widely held views, the Police Force is actually a common agency of all tiers of government, particularly the States and Federal Government.
“The fact remains that the States as the federating units have significantly shouldered the tasks of substantially funding and equipping the respective branches of the national policing institution in these subnational levels.
“There is little doubt that the state governments have remained a strategic funding partner and backbone of the national policing institution for decades. The constitutional division of powers between the States and the Federal government demarcates and assigns functions and responsibilities to all the tiers of government.
“The states and the federal government have powers to make laws and enforce them. The Police Force is the only coercive authority available to all the governments to enforce their laws.
“That is why the Nigeria Police Council which has a constitutional mandate for “the organisation and administration of the Nigeria Police Force”, is chaired by Mr. President and has all State Governors as members, and in the appointment or removal of the Inspector General of Police, the President SHALL consult the Nigeria Police Council.
“And so for the avoidance of doubt, if the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Establishment Act 2019, has no state representation, creative ways should be devised to ensure that the States are properly represented, or in the alternative to amend the Act to achieve the same.
“In any case, the States of the federation have been bearing a disproportionate share of the funding and equipping of the Nigeria Police as the police contingents in the various states are not provided with basic funding to operate and deliver on their mandate by the federal government.
“It appears a bit insensitive and lopsided to appoint Retired Inspector-General of Police, Barrister Suleiman Abba, as Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, from Jigawa State, North West, and also Ahmed Aliyu Sokoto, from Sokoto State “North West as Executive Secretary of the Fund.
To make matters worse, the Honourable Minister of Police Affairs, Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, is also from Sokoto State, North West.
“No doubt these are highly qualified individuals, but the present administration has been severally accused of breaching the federal character principle enshrined in the Constitution(Section 14(3) ). The Constitution imposes a duty on Mr. President to ensure that in the composition of an agency of this nature, ‘there shall be no preponderance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups.’
“So, except we have fifth columnists who don’t wish Mr. President well, these kinds of discriminatory appointments should be filtered by his aides and brought to his attention before publication. We believe his staff has not served him well in this instance.
“We strongly advise, and indeed most respectfully urge Buhari to immediately recall the recent approval given for the constitution of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund according to the Nigeria Police Trust Fund Establishment Act 2019, in the national interest, to accommodate state interests and to the reflect the federal character of Nigeria in the commanding height and management of the Fund.
“HURIWA is by this media Statement serving a notice that we will mobilise the Nigerian organised Civil Rights community to institute a suit at a competent court of law if after 78 hours of this publication of our statement the President fails to do the needful.”