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Idris and transitioning of Nigeria’s troubled police

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Buhari (middle), Idris and Adamu

To his relief and that of most Nigerians, Mr. Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, has finally been transitioned from Inspector-General of Police to an ordinary civilian by way of belated retirement. And as he joins other former top cops to reflect on his service years and how far he was able to shape The Nigeria Police, Idris would discover that what he did and did not do while in office would continue to be subject of public conversation.

Already, the former IGP’s extra 12 days in office have become a trending topic. Did Ibrahim Idris, whose flip-flops in office included the hasty charge against Senator Adeleke for examination malpractice, revise his birth date? What happens to the salaries and emoluments he received in those bonus days from Nigerian taxpayers?

Nearly three years ago, Idris’ voice was heard when he assured Nigerians at his inauguration that “we are going to do everything possible to ensure that we provide the best service to this country.”

But despite that lofty promise, while in office he angered Nigerians, not only through his partisan proclivities, but above all by his lack of finesse and disdain for professionalism.

Perhaps that could be why the Nigeria Police under his watch earned the epaulet as the worst Police Department in the world.

And just as the World Internal Security and Police Index was thumbing its nose about Idris and the Nigeria Police, the immediate past IGP took pleasure in the arrest of innocent citizens basking in the sun of free speech and assembly, particularly journalists.

Outraged by Idris’ draconian disposition towards freedom of the press, some observers concluded that he was inspired by President Muhammadu Buhari’s body language to replicate the military era of Buhari/Idiagbon regime.

The former IGP stood out as the first and only top cop that ignored the orders of his Commander-in-Chief without consequences.

President Buhari manifested an unbecoming peevishness when at the peak of the Benue massacre he disclosed that he never knew Idris failed to carry out his directive to relocate to the embattled Middle Belt state to arrest the herders-farmers’ skirmishes situation.

That unflappable softness helped in no small way to throw a hallo of invincibility around the IGP.

Some concluded that having been nominated by the Etsu Nupe, Dr. Yahaya Abubakar, a confidant of Buhari, the President did not want to do anything to hurt his relationship with the Nupe monarch.

The president remained adamant, such that even when the National Assembly called for his replacement with a professional officer, the IGP evinced much disdain for the lawmakers.

As Idris transmutes to civilian life, he would remember how he went after his predecessor, Solomon Arase shortly after coming on board on June 2016, in search of alleged 24 vehicles meant for the police.

He would remember the more than 42 Assistant Inspectors General (AIG) and Deputy Inspectors General (DIG) that were prematurely shunted aside into retirement to pave way for his sudden elevation.

Patronising policing

At last year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Ceremony, the outgone IGP did something that made a lot of people question his knowledge and competence.

It was a blunder that new cadets could not commit. Apart from making a wrong turn, the IGP offered his salute before it was due.

His fellow service chiefs, who were on hand to lay wreaths as well, noticed the procedural infraction.

Prior to that ignominious display, the then IGP had been the toast of cyber celebrities as they circulated the caricature of a top cop struggling to read a written speech. IGP Idris was in Kano State to inaugurate the Police Technical Intelligence Unit in the state.

Although the former police chief was not known to be afflicted with stammering affliction. he began to sweat and struggle when he came to a portion of the script: He said: “I mean, transmission, I mean effort, that the transmission cooperation to transmission, I mean transmission to have effect, em em, apprehend, I mean, apprehensive towards the recommendation, recommended formation effective and effect, I mean, apprehensive at the transmission, transmission and transmission for the effective police command.”

Idris’ sordid display in Kano raised a lot of conspiracy theories. Before his elevation to the post of Inspector General, he was the state’s Commissioner of Police and he was actually in charge of security in the state during the 2015 presidential election in which Buhari netted fabulous votes that catapulted him to a historic victory over incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan, with the infamous incidence of child voters.

Part of the 2015 magic in Kano was that the Resident Electoral Commission (REC) and his family perished in a fire outbreak and, after the election, Idris was rewarded with a promotion to the post of Assistant Inspector General of Police.

It did not stop there. In a space of about 11 months he received another good news, having been named Acting Inspector General of Police. But his goodluck became the undoing of AIGs and DIGs, who had been in their respective posts long before Idris was made a commissioner of Police.

As has become conventional in the force, about 42 senior officers were retired, just as the nation lost the benefit of their experience, training and know-how, especially the natural, professional progression in the police.

The infamous precedence that has been set has now also been upheld with the appointment of Idris’s successor, Abubakar Mohammed Adamu. Many AIGs and DIGs would have to use the unceremonious exit door from the police.

Buhari’s albatross

The belated retirement of Idris seemed to have been propelled by precedent. Having authorized the retirement of former IGP Solomon Arase immediately he attained the retirement age, it proved a hard nut for the Buhari Presidency to retain Idris as other service chiefs.

Nonetheless, replacing Idris with Adamu from neighbouring Nassarawa State renews the allegation of nepotism charge against President Buhari, such that many observers wonder why the president did not use the opportunity to redress obvious imbalances in the security architecture of the country.

With the precedent set by Idris’ meteoric rise and operation of convention, the police lost the opportunity of having a female IGP, since the next in rank is a woman, Peace Ibekwe-Abdalla.

Not that alone, the old apprehension arises, which is that Buhari is retaining control of the security apparatus of the country in the hands of northern officers, ostensibly to subvert the electoral process.

Idris’ antics

IF it were within his power, the outgone IGP would have resisted his retirement. The much he could do to hang on was to shift his date of birth from January 3 to 15, after he became IGP in June 2016.

It is not likely that the Acting IGP Adamu would alter his date of birth, not only because it is already in the public domain, but because he has two years to serve in office.

It remains to be seen how the police would fare under the new regime, especially under the pressure of election.

Under Idris, the police became overtly partisan such that most commentators blamed the former IGP for working to humour President Buhari into retaining him in office beyond the due retirement date. The twilight posting of Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, was seen as the last act of a compromised top cop.

But signs of a possible review emerged with the signal overriding the inexplicable posting.

Nigerians saw such embarrassing posting when some police officers were detailed to barricade the residence of Senate President Bukola Saraki and that of his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, on a day they were programmed to be impeached from their posts.

Idris was also on illogical duty again at the home of Senator Dino Melaye, who was seen by the ruling party as a thorn in the flesh of Buhari and Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, due to his vocal criticisms and theatrics. Senator Melaye actually opposed a bill asking for supplementary budget for the police during the forthcoming election.

If there were flashes of efficiency during his tenure, it could not be easily located or remembered because ex-IGP Idris carried out many anti-democratic assignments that easily obscure any such commendable performance.

For instance, the tear-gassing of unarmed politicians, who were protesting for a free and fair election at the office of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja, was seen as one of the many low points of the Idris administration.

The opposition politicians were protesting what they described as a rape of democracy in the Osun gubernatorial election.

Refund of 12 days’ salary

HAVING overstayed his retirement by 12 days, there have been calls on Idris to refund to the Federal Government coffers, the salaries and allowances he collected within the period.

A rights group, International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law, (Intersociety), said the Federal Government should “thoroughly and conclusively investigate former IGP Ibrahim Idris.”

Describing Idris’ stay in office beyond his retirement due date as illegal, Intersociety, in a statement signed by Emeka Umeagbalasi and Joy Igboeli, urged the government to recover all public funds, “including overheads and operational costs as well as paraphernalia allowances, personal earnings and other illegitimately authorized expenditures cumulatively authorised and spent by former IGP Idris in his 12 illegal days in office as Nigeria’s IGP or between 3rd and 15th January 2019.”

Intersociety also chided President Buhari administration for refusing to appoint a senior police from the Southeast as next IGP to relieve “the region from the past four years of central and regional socio-political segregation, exclusion and structural violence.”


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