By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
An open ridicule of the serving Inspector General of Police, Mr. Etim Inyang by the military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida at an Armed Forces Ruling Council meeting in 1986 signposted a grim era of insecurity in the nation. Babangida reportedly asked Inyang, “My friend, where is Anini?” A taunt that apparently hastened the capture of the dreaded armed robber, Lawrence Anini who terrorized Benin City and environs. The derision of Inyang has the character of the self-inflicted controversies courted by the current Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, who was only two years into his career as a policeman when Anini unleashed a four-month reign of terror.
The urgency with which Babangida conveyed the need to rid the country of the Anini nuisance must have made a lasting impression on Idris who was 27 years (when he became a policeman) and still wet behind the ears. On becoming the Inspector General of Police 30 years later, he awaits the kind of insulting, ‘my friend, where is Anini?’ remark from President Muhammadu Buhari that would make him look stupid.
A mimicry in the manner of the Babangida mockery of Inyang may be what Idris needs to boost his confidence to go after killer herdsmen in the middle belt. Idris may not be obliged to comply if the Commander-in-Chief is absent-minded and only jolted to momentary recall when there is a public outcry.
A graduate of Agriculture who has since added a degree in Law to his resume, the Inspector General of Police harbours concealed loathing of farmers which is the reason he distanced himself as much as possible from cultivation. Every farmer should join the police force; failing which they should spare no effort to arm themselves.
Farmers are lazy and unimaginative, if they had half the intelligence they are credited with, their farming tools-hoes, machetes and the like are capable of inflicting lethal blows. So, why do they need the police when they have enough in their arsenal to wade off attacks and defend themselves? Handicapped with just 370. 000 men and officers to cover over 923,000 square kilometres of Nigerian territory populated by close to 200 million people, there are more very important persons to worry over than farmers.
Idris could never be a doctor. And he has a strong aversion for doctors like Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki who take a liking to farmers and political thugs. He can’t stand a person who is skilled in the science of medicine and opens his arms to welcome obnoxious farmers who were thrown out of Zimbabwe. Why would he want to fraternise with him and his colleagues, especially if there are Distinguished gentlemen like Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima in their assembly who love the warmth of teenage girls. That would only serve to remind the IGP of a misdemeanor he tried in vain to hide from the public. He would not help them to achieve their purpose at ‘a deliberate blackmail, witch-hunt and mischievous’ by obeying their summons.
IGP Idris may also be reminded of his violation of the letter and the spirit of The Police Code in the manner he contracted his marriage to Amina Asta, whose meteoric rise in the Nigeria Police is allegedly linked to IGP Idris, her husband. Why should anyone accuse the Inspector General of Police of favouritism when a countless number of officers have also benefited from Idris’ supposed altruistic disposition?
As the 19th Nigerian-born IGP since the Nigerian Police was formed in 1930, Idris’ transgressions may not be as putrid as former IGP Tafa Balogun who former President Olusegun Obasanjo pointedly humiliated in public in the most demeaning manner. It may even be better to be tagged an ‘enemy of democracy’ who is ‘unfit to hold any public office within and outside Nigeria’ (as the Nigerian Senate view Idris) than to come before a committee of haters with long knives. What chance does a cockroach stand in a court presided by a hen? Idris has continued to insist that the lawmakers are bent on colouring him bad.
His enduring tenure as IGP began on a topsy-turvy note against his predecessor, Solomon Arase. The latter had issued several administrative queries to Idris; so when the tables turned and Idris became IGP, he sought to take his pound of flesh off Arase. It was an unprecedented dirty fight that dragged the famed esprit de corps in the mud. From then, Idris has staggered and stuttered in the public space in a manner unbecoming of one who previously commanded the Police Mobile Force (the so-called punching arm of the police).
Idris’ tendency to prevaricate began with a seemingly innocuous order to withdraw police personnel from VIPs. It was an unsolicited directive that announced his clumsiness. One day the personnel were ordered to report back to base immediately. A little while after, the instruction was kept in abeyance.
Perhaps, the most infamous wobble of the Idris era is the scandalous Kano speech episode in which he appeared to be challenged reading his own prepared text. This is a man who should be on the farm as a graduate of Agriculture, if he had stuck to his original calling. Even as a lawyer, he could have remained behind the curtain of the law profession as a company secretary. And that would have covered his apparent inadequacies. All along in his policing career, Idris climbed the ladder of the Police hierarchy as a matter of organisational convenience until he got to the top where he is alone, out in the cold.