By Ochereome Nnanna
SINCE President Muhammadu Buhari returned from his controversial “condolence” visit to Benue on 12th March 2018, Nigerians have been expectant for a consequential action to be taken. He had shocked those of us who are still shockable when he disclosed his “surprise” that the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, had disobeyed his order to relocate to Benue State to stop the killings and apprehend those perpetrating them.
That consequential action was the immediate sack of the IGP. It is inconceivable that an IGP whose hiring and firing solely depends on the good graces of the President would only visit Benue State Government House and hop off to neighbouring Nasarawa State from where he returned to celebrate his 59th birthday in Abuja. As you read this article, that event took place ten days ago. IGP Idris is not only still in office, he is in power, as General Ibrahim Babangida put it.
Only on Monday, IGP Idris barked out familiar orders asking all police officers attached to big men and women to detach themselves and come back for redeployment. This is a hollow ritual which every IGP engages in. Within the past nine years, at least five IGPs – Ogbonnaya Onovo, Hafiz Ringim, Mohammed Abubakar, Solomon Arase and Ibrahim Idris – have dished out exactly the same order. At the end of the day nothing changes. You hear when the Police Chiefs order for the withdrawals, but you never hear when the orders are rescinded and these personnel sent back to the fat cats. They are not meant to be implemented. They are for the ears of the gullible public only.
The emerging truth is that it is highly inconvenient for the police authorities, the orderlies themselves and the fat cats they serve for genuine withdrawals to be carried out. The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mr. Mike Okiro, was recently quoted by online newspaper, Premium Times, of disclosing that out of the 400,000 personnel of the Police, 150,000 are protecting the fat cats. Okiro is a former IGP himself, so he knows what he is saying. He was quoted as saying: “We could not sustain the enforcement of the order on withdrawal of policemen to unqualified persons in the country because of lack of fund”. IGP Idris indicated his lack of seriousness in making the order when he said that the same individuals are free to reapply.
Well, we had for long suspected that posting policemen to wealthy private citizens is good business for the police top brass. Police protection is a matter of cash. A senator, Isa Hamma Misau, in August last year accused this same IGP Idris of making between N120 to N180 billion annually from renting out our policemen to fat cats. Funny enough, the Federal Government joined hands with IGP Idris to sue Misau. Nobody bordered to send the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to check out Misau’s allegations in the same way that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had sent the EFCC to investigate, arrest, prosecute and jail his IGP, Tafa Balogun. Buhari is not Obasanjo. Yet, Tafa Balogun had played a key role in seeing Obasanjo re-elected to a second term in office in 2003, same as IGP Idris was seen to have done as Commissioner of Police in Kano State in 2015.
You will recall the “American wonder” election that took place in Kano. On 28th March 2015, the National Assembly and Presidential polls took place nationwide. Kano, where COP (then) Ibrahim Idris provided the security cover, recorded a huge disparity that is still the talk of town which questions the integrity of Professor Attahiru Jega’s Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. The National Assembly poll recorded a total of about 800,000 votes while the Presidential Election nicked a whopping 2,172,447 out of which Buhari as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, hauled unbelievable 1.9 million votes.
As the murmurs on this electoral abracadabra rose, the INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Alhaji Munkaila Abdullahi, who was said to take exceptions to the results, perished with his family in a mystery fire on 3rd April 2015. Pronto, Kano State COP Idris told newsmen in his office that the family died from suffocation in the fire which, he alleged, was caused by a power surge. Idris said there was no evidence of murder. Case closed. Barely ten weeks later, he was given multiple and accelerated promotions from COP to IGP, with many senior officers sacrificed into early retirement to enable him serve as Buhari’s man in charge of the Nigerian Police Force. Since Idris assumed office, he has followed Buhari’s interests and agenda to the letter, including his obvious shadow-boxing with police deployment to places where Fulani herdsmen have been massacring and displacing indigenous people.
The Police Spokesman, Mr. Jimoh Moshood, who seems to know what the game is all about, took the unprecedented risk of calling Governor Samuel Ortom “a drowning man” on national television over the Benue crisis, and nothing happened to him. IGP Idris knows he is safe. He knows he did not “disobey” Buhari’s order. He probably knew the order was not a genuine one from the bottom of the President’s heart, so he gave it the treatment meant for it.
People are now saying that IGP Idris cannot be removed because he has another “good” job to do in 2019 – delivering the elections. On 15th January 2018, IGP Idris celebrated his 59th official birthday. It is significant to know that he will still be eligible to stay and deliver the general election before he retires.
And so, his sudden order withdrawing police orderlies from the fat cats of the nation was nothing but an attempt to divert attention from the continued expectation of the people on President Buhari to do the needful.
But we will not be distracted. We may be ruled by jokers, but we know all their tricks.