By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
WHEN former Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase was sacked on September 2016, over his inability to arrest rising insecurity in Nigeria and Ibrahim Kpotu Idris appointed as the new police helmsman by President Muhammad Buhari, many celebrated, believing that a credible crime-bursting boss had indeed come to town. But their joy was to be short-lived. This is because rather than decrease, there was an upsurge in crime and corruption that soon took a disturbing dimension.
Worse still, it was not long before the new IGP got enmeshed in unwarranted controversies. The controversies ranged from insubordination to outright disobedience of law and order. Allegations of misappropriation of security funds and other infractions were raised against him by many Nigerians, including members of the National Assembly. The situation was such that strident calls were made for his immediate removal and replacement. Idris also consistently embarrassed even the presidency on issues bordering on internal security of the nation. Various cases of threats to lives and property, including the mayhem by suspected cattle herders which sparked violence in many parts of the country, were treated with kid’s glove and neglect by the police prompting the intervention of soldiers.
Following his failure to stop the incessant killings of innocent citizens in almost all the parts of the country by suspected herdsmen, Amnesty International claimed that clashes between farmers and herdsmen in Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Enugu, Plateau, Ondo, Kaduna etc claimed no fewer than 168 lives in January 2018 alone. The country’s Director of Organisation, Ossai Ojigho, in a statement boldly asserted that “the responses of police authorities were ineffective, too slow, totally inadequate, ineffective and in some cases, unlawful”.
Unfortunately, in spite of all these condemnations, police authorities continued to be seemingly indifferent to the wanton killings in the country. It was so much that in March, 2018, over 70 people were killed in Benue by suspected herders and the killing extended to Plateau State where more than 130 persons were massacred in one fell swoop, while over 50 houses were burnt. Eyebrows were raised after President Buhari who was disturbed by the killings directed the IGP to relocate to the area in Benue, but he failed to obey the order, to the chagrin of Nigerians and the international community.
Not long after, he continued to stoke the embers of controversy when he failed to order the arrest of some members of Arewa Youths who brazenly issued an October 1 quit notice to Igbos living in the North. He also got involved in war of words with members of the National Assembly. He also incurred the wrath of the Presidency after he vehemently dishonoured the office of the Vice-President by re-deploying his Aid-de-Camp, claiming that postings in the Force are a routine exercise.
Similarly, Anambra State, Governor Willie Obianor, bitterly complained about the irresponsible attitude displayed by the IGP who redeployed the Governor’s ADC without prior notice.
Recall also that in October 27, 2017, a serving member of the National Assembly, Senator Isa Misau, publicly accused Idris of misappropriation of public funds and failure to account for over N10 billion he earned monthly from special security postings of over 100,000 police men assigned to individuals and corporate bodies. The IG was said to be using the police men and properties to enrich himself by attaching police officers to VIPs and organisations, using monies earned from such for his personal care, rather than funding the Police Force.
Likewise, in January 2016, members of House of Representatives queried Idris on why the sum of N1.2 billion approved in the Appropriation Act of 2016 for the purchase of ten armoured vehicles personnel carriers, APC, by the Nigerian Police Force was diverted to purchase 64 Toyota Hiace commuter vehicles without the approval of the National Assembly. House members tagged this move as unconstitutional, flagrant disregard for authority, and improper spending of public fund.
In the same vein, his failure to pay the arrears and salaries of police operatives which culminated into a protest in Maiduguri by masked members of the force on July 1, was another controversy that tainted his chequered tenure.
Also to be forgotten was the ding-dong face-offs between the police and a serving senator, Dino Melaye and the Senate president, Olusola Seraki over a robbery incident that claimed many lives in Kwara State.
Perhaps, no Inspector General of Police had attracted so much outpouring of criticisms than the just retired IGP Ibrahim Idris. Glaringly, the fact that President Buhari could not extend his tenure in an election period is a manifestly clear testimony that his era was a woeful one for the police force. And, of course, Buhari would not allow his re-election to be tarred by Ibrahim Idris.
It should, however, be noted that aside the commendable roles played by some of his officers like the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, Imohimi Edgal and the Commander of his Intelligence Response Unit, IRT, DCP Abba Kyari, the former police boss would not have recorded any positive result for the Nigeria police force during his tenure. As it were, posterity many not remember him as one who performed or served creditably as a one time Inspector General of police in Nigeria. Therein lies the lesson for the new police IGP, Adamu Muhamed and a challenge for him to live up to the high expectations of Nigerians.