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Tenure extension of IGP: Ehindero and Okiro examples

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Mike Okiro

The tenures of IG Sunday Ehindero and Mike Okiro that were extended by the administrations of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Yar Adua respectively.

Obasanjo extended the tenure of Ehindero by one year. Former President Yar’Adua extended the tenure of Okiro till 2010. But President Buhari cannot extend the tenure of IGP Ibrahim Idris because PDP called it attack on democracy. History will judge us.

Section 215, sub 1, paragraph (a) of the 1999 Constitution, states: “An Inspector-General of Police… subject to Section 216 (2) of this Constitution, shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council from among serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.”

In January 2005, Inspector General Tafa Balogun was forced to resign after it was revealed that he was under investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He was replaced by Sunday Ehindero.

In February 2006, Ehindero said the Force would send a bill to the National Assembly to amend Police Act to remove gender bias.

He also expressed pleasure that the Supreme Court judgment had declared that police lawyers could prosecute criminal cases in any court in Nigeria.

Obasanjo has further extended the tenure of Ehindero till May 29, 2007. Ehindero’s tenure had earlier been extended by one year on March 20, 2006 when he personally reminded the president officially that his tenure had come to an end.

The president was said to have told the Inspector General that the time was too short for him to start looking for another Inspector General at this crucial moment in the nation’s history.

He was said to have impressed it on Ehindero the need for him to stay on till the said date so as to organise the security for the forthcoming general election which he (President Obasanjo) was said to have described as a landmark as it would be the first transition from one civilian administration to another.

The development has now laid to rest speculations as to who would succeed Ehindero whose tenure, after the first extension, would have ended on March 19.

The president is at liberty to appoint any Commissioner of Police (CP), Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) as Inspector General.

All through the eight-year tenure of former President Olusegun Obasanjo between 1999 and 2007, officers from not just the South but his Southwest held the post, from Musiliu Smith, through Tafa Balogun to Sunday Ehindero. But in most cases, the issues of being appointed above other senior serving officers hardly arose, as it did in 2007 when Okiro got the job.

The extension of tenure of Okiro till 2010 by Yar’Adua, is a clear manifestation of the President’s foresight and willingness to reward hard work; it equally portrays him as a man who is not easily swayed by sentiment and emotions.

It would be recalled that Okiro, in keeping with service requirement, had written to Yar’Adua to notify him of his retirement in July this year.

This had expectedly triggered a flurry of campaigns and agitations by various interest groups over who should succeed him.

Unfortunately, these agitations, as legitimate as they might be, were coloured by ethnic, selfish and parochial interests, rather than competence of the person.

The presidency extended the tenure of office of Okiro by one year. Indications to this emerged as presidency sources in Abuja hinged the decision of Yar’Adua on the belief that the IG had performed excellently, since the confirmation of his appointment.

The Police Service Commission (PSC) recommended the one year extension to the presidency. Okiro was expected to proceed on his terminal leave that month when he would have spent 35 years mandatory service.

The extension was sequel to Okiro’s leadership style which had ensured security of life and property across the country.

The presidency was particularly happy that armed robbery attacks on banks, bullion vans and other commercial outlets in the country had almost become a thing of the past.

It was gathered that with the unfolding development, the IGP’s initial plan to commence his terminal leave, preparatory to his retirement might have been put on hold, at least for now.

The truth as far as the matter is concerned is that President Buhari as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is vested with power to extend or not to on the matter.

Instead of making a needless fuss about the tenure of IGP Idris, Nigerians should be calling for an extension of the tenure of the IGP because he has brought sound, workable and credible reforms to the police.

Was it not the same police under IGP Idris that provided security in Anambra State where the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) won the governorship and lately senatorial bye-elections? Under him, even the PDP has won elections in Benue, Oyo, Kogi and Kaduna states even as foreign observers have hailed the outcome of such elections as they have been adjudged as credible, free and fair, as opposed to what the PDP is telling us.

But the issue of succession in the police has become a big, thorny, political issue that seems now to pose a serious threat to the hierarchical nature of police organisation and, therefore, the integrity of the force.

Appointment of the IGP is the prerogative of the President on the advice of the Police Service Commission, which advice the president may just ignore.

Donald wrote from Benin City.


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