14th January, 2022
By Blessing Agbomhere
Before I adumbrate this subject matter, I wish to plead with our powerful governors that I mean no disrespect to their highly exalted and exulted offices, but come in all humility to speak bluntly to this topical issue in the letter and spirit of the law.
I may beg again to ask how the popular notion that ‘Governors of States in Nigeria are the chief security officers of their States, finds its way into the Nigerian socio-political environment? This notion has become so popular that even governors pose to address themselves in commando and bravado styles as chief security officers of their States.
It amounts to mischief, gross misconduct, impersonation, disrespect to, and violation of, the extant laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, abuse of Oath of Office of the governor, disregard to the Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and treasonable felony for any governor to allow himself to be addressed as chief security officer, or for any governor to arrogate the position to himself.
What is security, who is a security officer and who has the constitutional authority to act as, and performs the duties of a chief security officer in Nigeria?
Contextually, the Black’s Law Dictionary defines ‘security’ as the quality, state, or condition of being secure, especially from danger or attack. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary describes security as the activities involved in protecting a country, building or person against attack, danger, etc. Also the United Nations has adopted the definition of ‘security’ by Samuel Makinda which stated that ‘security is the preservation of the norms, rules, institutions and values of society’.
From the aforesaid, it can be deduced that a security officer is a person saddled with the responsibility and duty to provide security, while a chief security officer is an officer with higher duty, responsibility, authority and power to command, control and supervise, and at best lead, the security officer(s) to provide security.
Constitution of every nation is the organic and fundamental law of that nation or a state, which may be written or unwritten, establishing the character and conception of the government, laying the basic principles by which its internal life is to be conformed, distributing and limiting the functions of its different departments, and prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of sovereign powers.
The Nigerian Constitution is the highest law of the land. All other laws bow or kowtow to it for salvation. No law which is inconsistent with it can survive. That law or custom must die, and die for the good of the society, (see Section 1 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), Tony Momoh v. Senate of the National Assembly (1981) 1 NCLR 21, Kanada v. Governor of Kaduna State 1 (1986) 4 NWLR (Pt. 35) 361 CA, Dapianlong v. Dariye (2007) 8 NWLR (Pt.1036) 332 SC, Abacha V. Fawehinmi (2000) 4 SC (Part II) 1, Amaechi v. INEC (2007) 9 NWLR (Pt 1040) 504 CA and AG Abia v. AG Federation (2003) 4 NWLR (Pt. 809) 124 SC).
In the entirety of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), there is no single mention of, or reference to the governor as the chief security of the State. The Constitution never mentioned it, envisaged it or arrogated it whatsoever. It is common knowledge in constitutionality of laws that the express mention of one thing in law is the outright exclusion of the thing not mentioned, and if we agree to this axiom, where can we say, the governors inherited this title.
In the establishment of the Office of the Governor of a State, Section 176(2) of the Constitution mandates the governor to be the chief executive officer of that State, and not chief security officer, permitting him to carry out his duties in accordance with the Constitution and Oath of Office of the governor of the State, and also subjecting him to Section 5(2)(a-b) and (3)(a-c) of the Constitution which singingly empowered the Governor to discharge his executive duties while also restricting and confining his power concerning items under the Exclusive Legislative List No. 45 in the 2nd Schedule to the 1999 Constitution, which includes but not limited to Creation of States, Arms, Defence, Military, (Army, Navy and Air Force) including any other branch of the armed forces of the Federation, Security, Police and other government security services established by law.
Notwithstanding the obiter dictum in Alamieyeseigha v. Igoniwari (No. 2) (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1034) 524 CA which decorated the Governor in super-cop uniform (knowing that Chief D. S. P. Alamieyesegha was actually a Naval Officer) in front of the cameras as Chief Security Officer for the sake of giving a Police Commissioner directives in securing public order and safety in that state, and certain provisions in the condemned Independence Constitution of 1960 which sought to compare the powers of the Central and Regional Governments, and thereby devolving Arms and Ammunition, Prisons and other institutions for the treatment of offenders, the maintaining and securing of public order, safety and essential services and supplies in its Section 154 Concurrent Legislative List to the Regions, the 1914 Amalgamation Proclamation by Sir Frederick Lugard, GCMG, CB, DSO, PC, former Governor of Hong Kong, the last Governor of Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Governor-General of Nigeria never laid a foundation that permitted a regional leader to be the chief security officer of his region. And as such, the 1914 Proclamation, 1951 and 1960 Constitutions vested the powers of the chief security officer in the Queen of England, represented by the Governor-General, while eventually the 1979 Constitution, and the operational Grundnorm, the 1999 Constitution voluntarily donated and ceded, in part and in whole to, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria the power of the chief security officer of the State and of the Federation as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.
Can a servant or an agent act beyond and outside the scope of authority of the principal. The governor of a State can give lawful directives and orders to an extent in matters where the State House of Assembly can make law, and by that law give him the authority to so act; and in enforcement of such laws, he would require the support of the chief security officer of the State, or of the Federation.
Constitutionally, the roles and functions of the governor of a State is limited to being a chief servant, a chief messenger of the State, a chief errand boy or logistic officer, a chief supervisor and a spokesman for the State at the National Executive Council. He is not in charge of the security of the State, he cannot put the security officers of the State at his whims, beck and call, or cannot direct the security officers of the State without the approval of the chief security officer of the State, and/or of the Federation. More so, under the doctrine of ‘nemo dat quod non habet’, no one is allowed to give solely what he does not own solely, except with the express and implied permit of the radical owner.
Section 24(a-e) of the 1999 Constitution, under the non-justiciable provision of Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, makes it a duty for citizens, including the Governor to abide by the Constitution, respect the institutions of Government, make useful contribution to the well-being of the community, render national service as may be required and render assistance to appropriate and lawful agencies in the maintenance of law and order, and to this extent, like any other citizen, the Governor can participate and help in the security of the State. Even with this role, he cannot be called the chief security officer, how be it, at best he can be referred to as the chief watchman of the State, who in turn can give report, direction by finger-pointing and useful information to the chief security officer of the State, or of the Federation.
The Nigeria Police Force is established and enabled by Section 214(1) and (2) (a-c) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Section 3 of the Police Act to maintain law and order, and to secure life and property. Section 4 of Police Act succinctly employs the Police for the prevention and detection of crime, apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property, and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties as may be required by law.
Section 215(4) of the Constitution provides that the state governor or his commissioner may give to the Commissioner of Police of a State lawful direction, report, information or advice with respect to the maintenance and securing of public safety within the State, however this subsection also provided that before the Governor’s direction is carried out, approval of the chief security officer of the State or of Federation can/should be sought by the Police Commissioner of the State, and if this is as provided, why should the governor assume he is the chief security officer of the State. It suffices here to say that the Chief Security Officer is the highest officer with the allodial or radical powers and authority to lawfully direct, instruct, supervise and control the Security Officers, notwithstanding, that such powers can be delegated to lower officers.
In Guda v. Kitta (1999) 12 NWLR (Pt. 629) 21 CA and Chukwuma v. C.O.P. (2005) 8 NWLR (Pt.927) 278 CA, the Court of Appeal ingeminate the duties and functions of the Police (security officers) as conceived in Section 214 of the Constitution and elucidated in Sections 3 and 4 of the Police Act. With regards to the scope of authority and chain of command, the Court of Appeal held in the case of Okoroma v. Uba (1999) 1 NWLR (Pt. 587) 359 CA and Military Administrator of Kwara State v. Lafiagi (1998) 7 NWLR (Pt. 557) 202 CA that the Police Officer is a Federal Agent with right to operate at both Federal and State. In acknowledging the power of the Governor to issue lawful directions to the Commissioner of Police of a State in the cases of A.G. Anambra State v. A.G. Federation (2005) 9 NWLR (Pt.931) 572 SC and Alamieyeseigha v. Igoniwari (No. 2) (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt.1034) 524 AC, the Courts also put ictus on the right of the Police Officer receiving the Governor’s direction to request that such matter be referred to the President of the Federation of Nigeria, who is the Chief Security Officer of the State, and of the Federation, or the appropriate Minister nominated by the President and the chief security officer for that purpose.
No other person, except the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, should be addressed as the Chief Security Officer of the State, and of the Federation, or his representative; and to this stead, he can be represented by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Police Affairs, the Inspector General of Police at the Federal level, and the Commissioner of Police at the State level.
Section 130 of the Constitution authorizes the President to be the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Security Officer and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The President is the Chairman of the Council of State (No. 5 of Third Schedule of the Constitution). He is the Chairman of the National Security Council (No. 25 of Third Schedule of the Constitution). The President as the Chairman of Nigeria Police Council (see No. 27 of Third Schedule of the Constitution) reserves under Section 216(1) of the Constitution the right to delegate his power to maintain law and order to any police officer or the Inspector General of Police, and under Section 216 (2) of the Constitution he can hire or fire the such representative.
More so, Section 218 of the Constitution enables the President to act as chief security officer of States, and of the Federation and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation with powers to exercise administrative control to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces and other branches of the Armed Forces as may be established by Acts of the National Assembly.
In law and by application of the law, it is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria who is the Chief Security Officer of the States, and the Federation of Nigeria, however, he can choose to ignore the governors to parade themselves as chief security officers of the States to justify allocation of unaccounted billions of Naira as security votes into their purse.
-Blessing Agbomhere is an arbitrator, legal researcher, right awareness campaigner, legalpreneur and founder of UBIIJUS. He can be contacted through: 08066804040 (sms only) or [email protected].