By Evelyn Usman & Joseph Erunke
There is anxiety in the Nigeria Police over what could happen in the next 24 hours, as the service term of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim Idris, ends today.
Idris, the nation’s 19th Inspector General of Police, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 21, 2016, to replace Solomon Arase.
The 59-year-old Niger State-born Police Chief is due for retirement having enlisted in 1984.
But there are speculations that his tenure could be extended by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, as he is yet to attain the mandatory retirement age of 60 years.
Already, reactions have started to trail the possibility of the tenure extension, owing to the silence and what was described as the tactical delay to appoint a senior police officer to take over from Idris.
One of those agitating for a new IGP, the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria, NOPRIN, urged President Buhari to resist the pressure to extend the tenure of IGP Idris and all Service Chiefs.
National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Mr. Okechukwu Nwaguma said: “ President Buhari, in your new year message, you reiterated your commitment to ensuring a free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019. But there are clear dangers to the realisation of this promise.
“Among the obstacles is the partisanship of security agencies under your policy and operational control. The worse is the Nigeria Police Force through the obsequious posture of the current Inspector General of Police whose term expires this January.
“Mr. President, please, demonstrate your sincerity and commitment to your promise of delivering free, fair and peaceful election this year by resisting the pressure to extend the term of the current IGP. Mr. President, please, avoid the temptation.
“Not a few Nigerians are convinced that, given recent events and conducts of the current IGP and heads of other security agencies which manifest clear partisanship, there is significant concern about the elections.
“The participation of the current leadership of the security agencies in overseeing the elections may gravely harm the perception of fairness and integrity of the process.’’
Those who spoke on the need for the President to urgently name Idris’ replacement also canvassed the need for Buhari to look beyond the North, since nearly all heads of security agencies in the country are from the region.
Already, the Action Peoples Party, APP, and the Coalition of United Political Parties, CUPP, have dragged President Muhammadu Buhari to court over the purported moves to extend the IGP’s tenure.
The President had on December 18, 2017, approved the extension of the tenures of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Air Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff.