Will Buhari Surprise Nigerians with Southern Police Chief?

Muhammadu Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari

IG’s supporters lobby for tenure extension
Other aspirants jostle to succeed Adamu in February
Disquiet in NDLEA over chairman’s term limit

By Kingsley Nwezeh

As top police officers intensified their lobbying to succeed the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, who is billed to retire in February, analysts are wondering if President Muhammadu Buhari will buck the trend by picking a Southerner as his successor.

The analysts, who spoke to THISDAY at the weekend, expressed concerns about the possibility of the president picking another Northerner to succeed Adamu, expected to retire on February 1 having spent 35 years in service, despite the clamour by Nigerians that Buhari should end the domination of Northerners as heads of the nation’s military, paramilitary and security agencies.

Adamu’s impending retirement has triggered a simmering succession battle in the police as those eyeing the post have been lobbying the presidency, traditional rulers and tribal unions to press for their emergence.

Besides, THISDAY also gathered that supporters of the outgoing IG are also lobbying for a tenure extension for him.

A top official in the presidency also confided in THISDAY at the weekend that the federal government is considering a one-year tenure extension for Adamu.

The succession lobby is coming as some protesting senior officers of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have accused the Chairman of the agency, Col. Mustapha Abdallah (rtd), of flouting the directive of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to hand over after the expiration of his tenure.

His tenure expired January 10, 2021 and he was expected to have handed over last Friday.

Except the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe, all other service chiefs are Northerners just like the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Also heads of the Department of State Service (DSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as well as paramilitary service such as the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Comptroller-General, Nigeria Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps are from the North.

The Northerner domination of the leadership has triggered the clamour for the dilution of the leadership of the agencies with candidates from the South.

Going by the provisions of the Police Act that Buhari signed into law last year, whoever is to be picked as Adamu’s successor must have at least four more years before retirement.

Based on this, while Adamu is likely to retire with some Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) and Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs), his successor is likely to be from the rank of AIG.

Of this group of officers, only three have a 2025 retirement date or above.

They are Dasuki Danbappa Galadanchi and Hafiz Mohammed Inuwa.

The other officer, who is the only Southerner in that cadre, is Moses Ambakina Jitoboh, from Bayelsa State, who heads Border Patrol unit.

Jitoboh, a former security aide to former President Goodluck Jonathan, is said to be due for retirement in 2029, having joined the police in 1994.

However, amidst the jostling, the source told THISDAY that government is considering a one-year extension for the IG to enable him to conclude the ongoing police reforms, especially in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

The presidency is said to be considering the tenure extension in recognition of the reform intiated by the IG, a former vice president of Interpol, as well his “mature” handling of the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests, hijacked by hoodlums, that resulted in low morale of personnel after 38 policemen were killed and police infrastructure destroyed.

The source said: “Beyond the #EndSARS, the IG is being given another opportunity to help government conclude police reforms already in place.

“The government is with him on community policing and the collaboration with Interpol. More importantly, the government is happy with his mature handling of the post-#EndSARS challenges, the low morale of personnel, which became a problem. He handled and motivated personnel in a satisfactory manner, including promotions in collaboration with PSC”.

“The IG is taking capacity building of personnel seriously and responded appropriately to demands made by Nigerians to scrap SARS. He did and set up SWATT and they are about to conclude training.

“He is doing a lot and since he intiated some projects, more police mobile training schools have been opened while more officers have been sent to the National Institute of Police Studies (NIPS), executive training for DIGs, AIGs and CPs, and we believe that he should be able to take these programmes to a point before exiting.”

On potential successors, he said: “Nobody is saying others are not capable; there are brilliant officers but this is the tentative position (of government) for now.”

The lobbying to succeed the IG has, however, intensified.

An extension of the IG’s tenure may, however, delay the full implementation of the Police Act 2020 with regards to the position and tenure of the IG.

The Police Act was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 17, 2020 and stipulated a four-year tenure for the next IG.

Adamu is billed to retire February 1 alongside the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Logistics and Supplies, Aminchi Baraya; the Deputy Inspector General of Police in charge of Directorate of Intelligence and former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), DIG Ibrahim Lamorde and DIG Nkpa Inakwu.

So far, contenders for the position of IG include DIG Sanusi Lemu, DIG Usman Alkali Baba, DIG Dan-Mallam Mohammed, AIG Hafiz Inuwa, AIG Garba Umar and CP Dasuki Galadanchi.

Buhari has maintained a policy of extending the tenure for military and security service chiefs, including permanent secretaries beyond their retirement age or number of years in service.

Those whose tenure were extended beyond their statutory period of service include the military service chiefs, heads of Immigration, correctional service and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, among others.

However, a rights activist and Executive Director, Rule of Law And Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC), Okechukwu Nwanguma, warned that extending Adamu’s tenure will amount to a violation of the Police Act.

He said: “If he (president) does that, he will be violating the Police Act. The truth is that this IG was already in place when the Act was passed so by age he should be due for retirement.

“There is no position in law that permits the president to extend the tenure of the IG even though he has been illegally extending the tenure of military and paramilitary service chiefs.

“If he does that, it will be purely based on political consideration. It will not be based on any law. I know the man is a man that does not have respect for due process and the rule of law. There is nothing he will do now that will surprise anybody.

“If you ask me, I will advise him to respect the law for once and allow the law to prevail. Under the Police Act, as a matter of fact, it is not the duty of the president to appoint an IG. It is the duty of the Police Council, which includes the president, governors of the 36 states, the chairman of the Police Service Commission and the sitting IG. I believe that the Police Council should sit and advise him in accordance with the law. They should not allow him to exercise that power unilaterally.

Meanwhile, there is disquiet at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as the embattled Chairman, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah, whose tenure elapsed yesterday has allegedly refused to hand over, insisting on continuing with a controversial recruitment in disregard of Malami’s directive to hand over to the next senior personnel.

A statement signed by Musa Ahmed Yusuf on behalf of Concerned Officers of NDLEA, called for a presidential intervention, describing the unfolding event as a show of shame and the height of official rascality.

“This act of insubordination to lawful orders from the supervisory ministry over the agency is condemnable.

Abdallah’s tenure ended on Sunday, January 10, 2021 but he has vowed neither to hand over nor stay action on the recruitment process.

“He made good his intentions with the release of money and deployment of officers to Jos over the weekend in preparation for the screening of candidates.

“This is a democratic government that operates by the rule of law. Abdallah cannot be above the law. We urge Mr. President to allow the law takes its full course. If by today, January 11, 2021, Abdallah fails to hand over, he should be arrested, all agency property collected from him and the accusations of corruption against him investigated for necessary legal action.”

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