Intrigues and power play that led to Arase’s removal as chairman of Police Service Commission

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By Joy Babayeju

Revelations have emerged as to the circumstances that led to the removal from office of Dr Solomon Arase as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC)

Recall that a presidential statement on Monday announced Arase’s removal as the chairperson of the Police Service Commission (PSC). The president replaced him with Hashimu Argungu, a retired deputy inspector general of police, according to a statement by the Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity), Ajuri Ngelale, on Monday.

The president also approved the appointment of Onyemuche Nnamani as secretary of the commission and Taiwo Lakanu, also a retired deputy inspector general of police, as member of the commission.
The statement, however, did not disclose the reason for Arase’s removal from office.

However, investigation by Daybreak Nigeria has revealed that his removal may not be unconnected with the recent exercise leading to the recruitment of 10,000 constables into the police police force.

Trouble started when the former commission’s chairman insisted that due process and merit be followed in the recruitment of new officers into the Force. according to a source within the Commission who didn’t want his name in print, Arase was convinced that if the problem of the Police was to be tackled on a long term basis it must be tackled at the recruitment level especially those at the lower and mid cadre of the force, ” As a Former Inspector General of Police he understood the problem and was willing to do his best to solve it. He wanted the recruitment exercise to be based on merit and follow due process. He wanted those who wrote the computer based assement test and made the cutoff mark to be the ones considered for recruiemt into the force. There were clear criteria outlined for the exercise. In each state of the federation those who made the cutoff were to be given priority. There was also consideration for female candidates to ensure gender balance. This is the first time the commission was carrying out a recruitment process in line with its mandate, and Dr Arase wanted to set a standard that was to become the basic minimum. Unfortunately this is Nigeria. The powers that be wanted the exercise to be business as usual. They wanted the place to be flooded with candidates who didn’t even seat for the assessment exam, people who are not qualified, people of questionable character, whose qualification is based on a list from highly placed individuals, Poltical big wig and the likes. That was the situation we had to grapple with. Some big men wanted to hijack the entire process. Should we have just fold our hands and watch? At the end of the day we all complain of the type of police we have, forgetting that we have allowed the leeway for unqualified people with questionable character to enter the force. This is the problem. The pressure was so much, i believe this is what consumed the former chairman. If he had chosen the easy option of compromise, to do the biddings of vested interests, i bet you he would be sitted at his desk this morning”.

Also speaking on the purported ICIR ( International Centre for Investigative Report) report, he noted that the allegations raised in the report is before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. ” it is before a high court, the former Chairman instuted a civil suit against ICIR for them to come and defend their report. They resorted to blackmail and started raising accusations of intimation against him which was false. If they were so sure of their story, the court is open and one would have expected them to come to the open court and present their case, but rather they have been evading service”.

The recent recruitment of 10,000 police constables by the Police Service Commission (PSC) may not have gone down well with some powerful persons in government, leading to the unceremonious removal of the Commission’s chairman.
Even though PSC members are by law confirmed by the Senate and are expected to serve for five years, the same law expressly grants the President powers to unilaterally remove any member if he is, dissatisfied with his performance.

According to section 4 (2) of the PSC Act, “A member of the Commission may be removed by the President if he is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or the interest of the public that the member should continue in office.”

It would be recalled that on March 5, 2024, 171,956 candidates drawn from all the 774 local government areas in the country sat for the PSC examinations for recruitment as constables into the Nigerian Police Force.
Arase who is a former Inspector- General had while justifying the need to get JAMB conduct the examination said “Nigeria needs the right police personnel with mental mobility and fertile minds to relate effectively with the public.”

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