Section 18(8) of the Police Act compels the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to retire after 35 years of service or the attainment of the age of 60, depending on whichever comes first. The current IGP Mohammed Adamu commenced service on 1st February 1986 and has now spent more than 35 years in office, yet for reasons best known to the powers that be, his tenure has been extended by three months in complete defiance of extant law. The retention of public service workers after retirement date is increasingly becoming the norm or hallmark of the current administration. Worst still they feel no need to explain the reasons for such actions which go against every grain of democracy.
It is symptomatic of impunity and illegality under which the Presidency has empowered itself to become selective with retirement from public service. Quite absurdly the Minister of Police Affairs said that the extension was to allow for a “robust and efficient process of appointing a new IGP”. Surely it wasn’t a secret that IGP Adamu’s tenure was coming to an end and a successor needed to be considered for an appointment? The law which covers the appointment of an IGP which surely anticipates a “robust and efficient process” is outlined in Section 7(3) of the Police Act. This section makes it clear that the procedure for appointing an IGP is that he or she shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Police Council from amongst serving members of the police force.
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Yet it’s clear that for inexplicable reasons the appropriate timely steps were not taken and the law requiring Adamu’s retirement by a given date was broken in a brazen unapologetic manner.
How has the most laughable excuse given for extending his tenure is to “ensure that the right officer is appointed”. This is a simple admission that the Police Council and Presidency slacked woefully and disrespectfully in carrying out their duties. The general public has been left to wonder what was ever so brilliant about Adamu’s service record as IGP that the simple step of appointing the next most senior officer to serve in acting capacity so as to conform with the law was not taken?
In considering who to appoint as his replacement there is little disputing that the Police Force needs visionary and effective leadership in order to implement imperative changes, modernise policing processes and ensure discipline within the force. This is not to say that all the blame for the poor state of affairs within the force should be placed on Adamu. He, like others before him, has done his best considering the handicaps. Whether or not his best is good enough is another matter altogether. The one recurring feature of the various tenures of IGP’s is their serial failure to reform the police to serve and protect citizens better.
The issue of getting the rank and file to obey orders is perhaps the number one priority for whoever is eventually appointed as substantive IGP. Even as respect for policemen and women diminishes daily it should be documented that IGP Adamu, like others before him, had publicly condemned police brutality, banned checkpoints, banned police randomly searching people’s phones, banned police from harassing citizens for vehicle particulars and banned them from wearing mufti while on duty. None of these orders was ever obeyed! Consequently, there is no excuse for tenure extension.
It beggars belief that anyone would reason that an IGP who could not enforce orders when he was substantive, can be expected to be obeyed when he is known to be “acting” for only three months! Also, it is difficult to see what he is expected to achieve. The Nigeria Police Force has operated unchecked and underdeveloped for years while displaying very little respect for human rights and little knowledge of the law itself.
The slogan “the police is your friend” is one of the most derisive in the nation! In truth, Nigeria’s underpaid, poorly trained, inefficient and underfunded police force is geared more towards oppressing public dissent and enforcing “orders from above” than towards actually solving crime. Indeed the force is structurally designed to fail in the task of detecting crime and securing the lives and properties of citizens. Nigerians are at a loss to understand why their biometrics are everywhere except with the police who need it the most.
It’s scandalous that in this day and age, the police do not have the capacity to lift fingerprints from crime scenes and compare them to databases. It makes no sense whatsoever that so many citizens have submitted their biometrics to three government agencies – Immigration, FRSC and INEC – in order to obtain an International Passport, a Driving License, and a Permanent Voters Card respectively. In addition, most of them have also submitted biometrics for their Bank Verification Number (BVN) and their SIM card registration. Out of these five biometric registrations, none is used by the police force.
Police stations don’t even have computers to access biometric databases and determine the true identity of suspects; whether or not they have any previous criminal record; and whether or not they are wanted in another state or police station! In assessing IGP Adamu’s tenure so far, retired police chiefs have alleged that he compared unfavourably to his predecessor. Apart from proving himself incapable of calling the Special Anti-Robbery Squad to order until nationwide protest led to the deaths of citizens and international opprobrium, they claim that under his watch force morale deteriorated.
Even though there is no doubt that extreme care must be taken in appointing his successor, this does not justify ignoring the law and delaying or postponing the matter. Preparations should have been made months ago for his retirement and replacement in an orderly fashion with all the pomp and pageantry associated with such events. The lethargic manner in which this administration has acted towards public appointments is unsatisfactory, to say the least.
The nation remembers how long it took to appoint new service chiefs having also unlawfully extended their tenures despite little in their performance being commendable. There is so much public discussion about which region the new IGP should come from, as opposed to what changes he should implement. It is self-evident that the current administration consistently ignores federal character in appointments and there is little expectation that this will not happen with the incoming IGP. Whenever someone is eventually appointed to succeed Adamu, whoever that person may be, and wherever he may come from, there is no amount of spin which government spokespersons can put on this sham of repeated tenure extension in complete disregard of the law. No explanation can hold water. It’s simply a failure in governance, a failure in adherence to the law and a failure of elementary administration.