There Was a Police Chief

The Inspector General of Police (IG) Ibrahim Idris

Dogged by many controversies, the eventual retirement of Ibrahim Idris comes with a huge sigh of relief, writes Olaseni Durojaiye

Like everything that has a beginning, the curtain officially fell on the era of Ibrahim Idris, immediate past Inspector General of Police (IGP) on Tuesday, with the decoration of Abubakar Adamu Mohammed as his successor. The nation heaved a sigh of relief to a reckless era. Idris exited the force on the ground of age.

Many commentators had speculated that his tenure would be extended and might remain in office beyond last Tuesday even as critics of the administration accused President Muhammadu Buhari of plans to retain him for the general election.

Nothing in his profile suggested he would go down in history as one of the most controversial Inspectors-General of Police that the country ever had. Analysts said that the diadem of the most brazenly partisan IGP in the force’s history will be keenly contested between Idris and the Second Republic IGP, Chief Sunday Adewusi. That is debatable though.

However, the sigh of relief expressed at his exit was how Idris ran the police.
Without mincing words, Idris sank the force into the abyss of unprofessionalism, partisanship, vindictiveness and disregard for the constitution that he was supposed to uphold and defend, so much so that many insisted that he was an albatross to the advocacy for independent, professional and strong state institutions needed to deepen democratic principles in the land.

His litany of misdeeds while in office was well documented. Last March, at the height of mindless bloodletting between farmers and herdsmen in Benue State, President Muhammadu Buhari had bowed to public outcry to arrest the situation and thus directed Idris to relocate to the state and remained there until the bloodletting was contained.

Idris put up an appearance in the state but that was all. He flagrantly flouted the presidential order to remain in the state until the carnage was contained.
In fact, President Buhari was surprised that the IG flouted his orders. He was surprised when he learnt that Idris merely made a whistle-stop trip to the state. The president expressed this shock during a meeting with farmers, herdsmen, government officials and other stakeholders when he visited the state.

Such arrogant disobedience of a presidential order was unprecedented in the nation’s history. Nothing near it had been seen in the recent history of the force and yet, he got away with it because there was no move to sanction him.

That led critics of the administration to insinuate that it could only happen under a Buhari presidency, adding that he couldn’t have tried same under an Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. In retrospect, it is arguable that Idris became more emboldened because he was not shown the exit door after that cardinal misdeed. And so he continued in his unprofessional ways.

Under him, many suspects of high profile cases mysteriously died in police custody.
The team leader in the Offa heist, Michael Adikwu; the suspect in the Dino Melaye culpable homicide charge by the police is another; yet another is the young Togolese house help suspect in the murder of prominent Lagos businessman and Ondo High Chief, Ope Bademosi.

This gave rise to several conspiracy theories with the most prominent of all being that the deaths were covered-up murders. However, to cover up what for whom? Nobody could ascertain just yet.

The Offa heist stood out more because it also exposed Idris partisanship. So far, the other suspects have not been brought to court and this lent believability to the theory that Adikwu’s death was a cover-up murder.

Besides, his attempt to rope the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki in the case clearly showed his hands at siding with the Executive in the political feud between Saraki and some elements in the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and by extension the presidency.

Many commentators interpreted the shenanigans directed at Saraki as a pushback strategy to ward off pressure mounted on him to appear before the senate to clarify certain national issues at the time.

This take gained traction as Idris rather than honour the Senate’s invitation he challenged the invitation in court. And when the court threw out his objection, he still refused to honour the invitation until the curtain fell on his inglorious reign on Tuesday.

Again, when police personnel cordoned off the official residences of Saraki and the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu last year, many observers again saw his hands in the infamous move. He was unperturbed. Rather, he carried on as if it was ‘a good day.’

If the force had a think tank in place that studies and reviews the tenure of every Inspector General of Police, Idris’ tenure would make for a good scholarly work, particularly the psychological side of it. If a review of his tenure is carried out, with particular interest in the psychology of what drives him, or the motivations behind some of his infamous actions would certainly make interesting read. Perhaps, that would explain his acts of vindictiveness towards men and officers of the force.

More important, his action once glaringly showed no love lost between him and the sacked Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS) Lawal Daura as exemplified in the preliminary report on the infamous invasion of the National Assembly by hooded men of the DSS last August.

The report did not hide his disdain for Daura. Even if Daura had played into his hands, so much more tact was expected in the handling of the investigation that led to the report from a nation’s number one cop. The report had stated that by ordering the invasion, Daura acted in gross violation of Nigerian Constitution. Even a fifth grader knows so.

The report, which he submitted for Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s exclusive perusal, at the time Acting President, added that Daura was working for some politicians for selfish interest, but did not name the accomplices. He did not until he left office. In the report, Idris said Daura did not consult with other security agencies before ordering the siege, and questioned the validity of a security report that allegedly anticipated violence at the parliament, which was the excuse Daura gave for ordering the blockade.

Quite revealing of his unprofessional handling of the supposed investigation that produced the report, there was nothing in it that was new, or not already in the public domain.
While some commentators attempted to absolve him of blame in the shoddy preparation of the report, arguing that it was prepared by Garba Umar, the police commissioner in Anambra State at the time, others countered that given that the buck stops at Idris table and so should get the blame.

He had also sought Osinbajo’s permission to further search Daura’s properties and those of other unnamed suspects already identified. How tactless could one be is a show of dislike for a fellow head of a sister security agency.

And as he exited the force, it is hoped that the nation would never again witnessed those controversial and avoidable actions and inaction that marked his tenure as the nation continues in the advocacy for professional and independent state institution, insulated the often overbearing influences of politicians and ruling parties.