Age-long Discriminatory Practices Against Nigeria Traffic Warden Service
: Intersociety Thanks Hon Victor Afam Ogene & House Of Reps For Timely Legislative Intervention
(Civil Liberties & Rule of Law, Onitsha Nigeria, 4th November 2014)-In 2011, under the leadership of former IGP, Hafiz Ringim, age-long discriminatory practices were discovered in the Nigeria Police Force by our leadership in the course of our advocacy activities. The discriminatory practices were administrative and structural in nature. They have existed since 1975 with a structural code name: the Nigeria Traffic Warden Service (TWS) Decree (Act) of 1975. This was also incorporated into Sections 59 to 69 of the Nigeria Police Force Act of 2004 (NPF Ordinance of 1930).
By the provisions of these obnoxious legal creations, the TWS was created and put under the midwifery of the Nigeria Police Force. The TWS was created for the purpose of ensuring safety of persons and properties on all Nigerian roads and strict compliance to road use and safety rules by all Nigerian road users. Those wishing to join the TWS must possess same academic, mental and physical qualifications and qualities with those wishing to join the Nigeria Police Force. Both of them also undergo same field training and spend almost same number of period before being commissioned as officers of the NPF.
Sadly, when it comes to ranking, promotion, remuneration and manning of duty posts or offices; deep discrimination and discrepancies occur. By virtue of the provisions of the TWS Decree (Act) of 1975 and Sections 59 to 69 of the Nigeria Police Act of 2004, the highest rank to be attained by a member of the TWS is called Senior Traffic Warden (STW), which is equivalent to the rank of Inspector in the Nigeria Police Force. The major ranking grades available and traditionalized in the Nigeria Police Force are: constable, corporal (first & second), sergeant, inspector (confirmed & unconfirmed), assistant superintendent (confirmed & unconfirmed), deputy superintendent, superintendent, chief superintendent, assistant commissioner of police, deputy commissioner of police, commissioner of police, assistant inspector general of police, deputy inspector general of police and inspector general of police. This means that there are fourteen major ranking grades in
the Nigeria Police Force; whereas only four ranking grades exist in the TWS.
Administratively, there is age-long promotion stagnancy policy against members of the TWS whereby their promotions from one rank to the other are delayed up to five years and above. Key officers of the TWS are also denied office and departmental duties. For instance, key members or officers of the TWS are not allowed by the leadership of the NPF to take charge and full responsibility of the TWS designated duties and offices like Divisional Traffic Officer or Office usually located in every divisional police station; whereas in the same station, divisional crime officer or office is manned by officers from the NPF Criminal Investigation Department. Another discriminatory practice exists whereby a deputy superintendent of traffic (DST) or a senior traffic warden (STW) is made to take orders from a police sergeant or corporal. Deep discrimination and discrepancy exist too in handling the affairs of members of the TWS whereby while personnel of the NPF
receive salaries and emoluments much fatter than members of the TWS who share equivalent ranks with their NPF counterparts.
It is view of these that several attempts were made by concerned and courageous members of the TWS to address the age-long structural and administrative anomalies leading to several court actions in the past. During the Obasanjo's presidency, a presidential proclamation was issued creating two extra ranking grades of assistant superintendent of traffic (AST) and deputy superintendent of traffic (DST), which are equivalent of the NPF's assistant and deputy superintendents of the police (ASP & DSP), yet the TWS Decree (Act) of 1975 and its NPF Act incorporated Sections 59 to 69 were left un-amended or un-repealed till date.
These un-healed wounds were re-opened in 2011 after the NPF Headquarters' terrorist bomb blasts that killed scores of people including a gallant officer of the TWS who was on duty. In firm solidarity with their slain colleague, some courageous officers of the TWS read a funeral oration at the funeral of their colleague where they appealed to the NPF top leadership to use the tragic death of their colleague to redress the age-long discriminatory practices complained of. The authorities of the NPF reacted furiously and dictatorially by hounding the affected officers including STWs Samuel Uwakwe, Emmanuel Mlanga and Adamu Dogari into the NPF cell at the Force Headquarters. They were further meted with orderly room trials and handed down sundry harsh punishments including dismissal from the NPF.
Hon Afam Victor Ogene & House Intervention As A Welcome Development: We commend the intervention of the member, representing the Ogbaru Federal Constituency, Hon Victor Afam Ogene and the Nigerian House of Representatives for their timely legislative intervention by introducing a bill seeking to repeal the TWS Act (Decree) of 1975 and creating an independent Nigeria Traffic Warden Service. The leadership of our organization-International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, which has been at the fore front of advocacy for redressing the said age-long anomalies since 2011 had during the 2012 Constitutional amendment awareness stakeholders' consultation session held in Ogbaru LGA of Anambra State approached Hon Afam Ogene with the issue. As promised, Hon Afam Ogene went on and introduced a private member bill before the House to that effect, which is now one of the House legislative businesses for 2014 legislative year.
We see this bold legislative step as a primus inter pares of a legislative duty. It gladdens our heart the more that the said Bill has survived second reading and has been referred to the House Committees on Police & Justice for further legislative actions. While calling for similar legislative step at the Senate for the purpose of legislative coherence and concurrence, we wish to add “informedly” that another alternative way of addressing the said age long ill treatments of members of the TWS is to allow them to take over the near moribund Nigeria Police Motor Traffic Division as fully fledged department and members and officers of the Nigeria Police Force. This should be done alongside repeal of the TWS Decree (Act) of 1975 as well as Sections 59 to 69 of the Nigeria Police Act of 2004 (Nigeria Police Ordinance of 1930. Our recent investigations have continued to show that a member of Nigeria Police Animal Division, for instance, can occupy any
rank or earn any position or promotion or emolument in the NPF without any form of discrimination or ill treatment.
We thank every Nigerian that has supported this cause. We also thank the Nigerian media particularly the online department of the Nigerian media operating within and beyond the shores of the country. The office of the Attorney General and the Presidency are also called upon to be supportive of this noble cause by joining hands with the House of Reps to end these age-long ill treatments that are unwarranted and uncalled for. The ill treatments complained of are also grossly at variance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended in 2011.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
• Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
• Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
• Barr Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program