IGP Mohammed Adamu Protect Disabled Police Job Applicants against Discrimination and Unfair Treatment
The title “Police recruit constables, bar persons with bowlegs” which appeared in the Nigerian Punch Newspaper publication of July 11, 2020, raises major Civil Rights concern regarding individuals with disabilities who might be applying for employment with the Nigeria Police Force.
The News Paper stated that the “NPF, however, barred persons with bowlegs, knock knees, bent knees, and gross malformation of teeth from being enlisted into the Force”.
“Others barred from the exercise include persons with amputated body parts, defective eyesight, and a speech impediment”.
On the ground of this troubling publication especially with the use of the word ‘barred,” citizens with interest in police work who have some form of physical or psychological disability could tell themselves that the NPF has automatically prohibited them from even tendering applications.
A presentation like this is a dangerous assault on millions of citizens with disabilities, especially when Nigeria has since ratified the United Nations 2007 Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. And the Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Bill was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019. The United States Department of State in its 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices (Nigeria), on human Rights and Labor matters; expressed grave concern about the Nigeria government not effectively addressing various discrimination including persons with disability.
IGP Adamu, the Nigeria Police Force has its job requirements, and can screen out persons with disabilities, and fully has the legitimate power to do so, but only after the disabled potential candidate like everyone else has the equal chance to put in their application.
Having an impairment or disability should not prohibit one from finding a job one knows, he or she will enjoy, as in law enforcement which has various units and divisions.
To deny persons with hidden or obvious disability the equal opportunity to openly apply and fully respond to police jobs advertisement will be inhumane, illegal and an unprofessional conduct on the part of the NPF.
So, let he or she apply. Then the following process should take place.
Upon receiving an application, the potential candidate is invited for interview, assuming the police job applicant comes in with visible fingers that looked impaired.
Since the NPF is mainly concerned about functionality and fitness for duty, the applicant is asked to demonstrate their ability to pull the trigger on the police issued firearm and reload it, the applicant tries it but was unable.
He or she can be denied from becoming a candidate because the person has a clear disability that will prevent or interfere with performing the job functions.
If another applicant is invited and enters the interview environment with what obviously looks like bowlegs or knock-knees, the applicant is asked to demonstrate running abilities. In the process the applicant trips and fall, or the knees start knocking loud and then falls to the ground. In this case denial of the job is quite legitimate.
In the case of an invited applicant with obvious dental problems, and during the interview he or she is habitually teeth grinding, slurring and unable to speak with clarity, denial is also appropriate.
Unlike the bowlegged or knee knocking applicant, let’s say the applicant with dental problems has dental issues as the obvious disability but qualifies very well in other aspects of assigned police demands, and a qualified police dentist or the applicant dentist is able to make the dental corrections. Followed by full medical documentation and good speaking skills, not to accept the applicant for the job would be a clear sign of labor discrimination.
Along the test for physical fitness and agility, it is very crucial that as part of the application process that applicants at all levels undergo pre employment psychological evaluation and possibly a Polygraph Test in order to determine who is emotionally, cognitively and ethically responsible, mature and stable for work in law enforcement.
There are specific tests, especially the psychological tools which requires special testing skills by a licensed psychologist with full competency.
But I fully recognize the rarity of such special psychological police testing tools for the selection process in a developing society like Nigeria as I observed many times. However, given that law enforcement work is a public safety position, future efforts should be made to ascertain that police recruits and higher staff applicants are physically fit and above all be validated psychologically and behaviorally.
Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi is an American based Clinical/Legal/Forensic Psychologist and a Police/Prison science-management specialist. He runs the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, an online nonprofit Psychological, Forensic and Behavioral health Center. He was born in Uromi, Edo State. In and out of Nigeria for professional and humanitarian work