By Kingsley Omonobi
Following calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to appoint the next Inspector General of Police from the South East which lost out in appointment of service chiefs, the Presidency said, yesterday, that appointment would not be based on ethnicity but ability to secure lives and property in the country.
The IGP, Mohammed Adamu’s stint in public office expired yesterday, triggering anxiety about who will be appointed by President Buhari to replace him.
The calls were further heightened, following new appointments of service chiefs by President Muhammadu Buhari, with the appointment of Major-General Lucky Irabor, Chief of Defence Staff (South-South); Major-General Ibrahim Attahiru, Chief of Army Staff (North West); Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo, Chief of Naval Staff (North West) and Air-Vice Marshal I.O Amao, Chief of Air Staff (South West) and none from the South East after the former service chiefs served more than five years each without a south easterner.
The elders, under the aegis of Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, CNEPD, had particularly asked the President to appoint the next IGP from the Igbo nation, saying failure to do so was inimical to the unity of the country.
The elders’ position was based on the appointment of new service chiefs by the President, with the exclusion of the South East.
‘’We received with great excitement news of the sacking of the former service chiefs of the country by the President. It is quite commendable that the President finally listened to the clarion call by Nigerians to that effect.
‘’However, the composition of the service chiefs greeted us with mixed feelings and sincere concerns. We strongly believe that the list does not meet a fair list as it is lacking in fairness, justice and equity to the south easterners.’’
No ethnic consideration
But Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who replied the elders and other stakeholders in a Channels television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, yesterday, said: “The language that is being used is that there should be an Igbo service chief and this is a country with more than 250 ethnic groups.
“If you are going to appoint a service chief from every ethnic group in this country, you are going to have more than 250 Inspectors-General of Police, 250 Chiefs of Army Staff, 250 Chiefs of Naval Staff. Things are not going to work like that.
“If we said that we are going to use ethnicity or religion as the basis, then, we have lost it. This is about law and order and not about ethnic identity.
“Look at what happened with the service chiefs appointed now – two from the South, two from the North. If you are talking about religion, two Muslims, two Christians.”
On the fate of IGP, Mohammed Adamu, who clocked the retirement age yesterday, Shehu said: “I haven’t spoken with the President but if I read his mind correctly, the President would rather have an Inspector General of Police who would make you and I safer, who would protect lives and property than one who is more pronounced by his tribal marks.’’
‘Buhari to decide on IGP Adamu’
He said the President would decide on the fate of Adamu when he returns to Aso Villa from Daura, Katsina State, later this week.
The President who travelled to Daura last week for his party’s re-registration and re-validation, is expected back in Abuja today.
Meanwhile indications of backbiting and underground opposition to certain perceived front runners for the next IGP position have emerged, with officers of some courses being considered for appointment querying the rationale for considering particular courses for the position.
In view of the recent campaign of threats and intimidation targeted at President Buhari, if AIG Moses Ambakina Jitoboh is not appointed as the next Inspector General of Police, there is the need to lay some facts bare for all Nigerians to see.
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Sources said appointing an officer who enlisted into the force on 10/06/1994, which means he is Cadet ASP course 18, to take over from the outgoing IGP who enlisted into the force on 01/02/1986, a Cadet ASP course 14, will cause problems for those in Cadet ASP Course 15 who were enlisted into the force on 15/03/1988 as the most senior officers.
One of the sources said: “The Nigeria Police is a disciplined organization where ranks matter a lot, as such the next IGP is supposed to be picked from Course 15 in the spirit of justice and fairness.
‘’It is unfortunate that there has been a lack of standard in promotion procedures over the years. Many officers were given unjustified special promotions to the detriment of others.
“It is only in the Nigeria Police that a course 18 officer can become senior to a Course 15 officer. Now that the president wants to restructure the force for better performance, this is the time to ensure that justice is done and due process is followed.
‘’In order to maintain discipline in the force, the next IGP should come from among Course 15.
“It is going to be an aberration to make a Course 18 officer an IGP when so many Course 15 officers have up to March 2023 to complete 35 years in service.
“All other courses (16 to 18) should wait for their time in the interest of justice and fairness. Now is the time to address issues that are hampering effective performance of the Nigerian police.’’
Referring to Police Act, another source said: “It did not state that persons to be appointed as IGP must have four or more years to serve until retirement.
“Sec 6 of the Act states: ‘The person appointed to the office of Inspector General of Police shall hold office for four (4) years subject the provision of clause 18 (8) of the bill.
“Clause 18 (8) of the bill, states that ‘every police officer shall on recruitment or appointment serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 yrs or until he attains the age of 60 yrs, whichever is earlier”
However going by precedents, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown that he may not follow the books and Act in appointment of either the IGP or service chiefs. An example is the appointment of IGP Ibrahim Idris Kpotum who was about number 29 on the list of those qualified to be appointed IGP.
His appointment led to massive retirement of about 28 senior officers, including DIGs and AIGs.
‘Constitutional crisis looming’
Meanwhile, as IGP Mohammed Idris’ came yesterday, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, has warned that there would be constitutional crisis in the country, if he stayed in office beyond 12 midnight yesterday.
Adegboruwa explained that by law, Adamu seizes to be a member of the Nigeria Police Force from 12 midnight, yesterday.
According to him, the failure of President Muhammadu Buhari to either extend the tenure of the IGP or name a replacement has several legal implications..
He said: “By midnight of February 1, 2021, Mr. Adamu seizes to be a member of the Nigerian police force. Having attained the mandatory year of service within the force. So, if he is no longer a member of the NPF, he cannot be a leader of the force.
“It is going to be a constitutional crisis if he does not vacate office by the end of today. There will be a serious constitutional crisis if he remains in office without extension or replacement by 12 midnight.’’