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The coming of new IGP

Posted: Apr 24, 2015 at 12:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Section 215 (3)  of the Constitution and Sections 9 (4, 5) and 10 (1, 2) of the Police Act should be amended to remove operational control of the police from the President and return it to the IG who is a professional

Nigerians were again on Tuesday greeted with the announcement of the name of a new Inspector General of Police, IGP, Arase, Ehigiator Solomon. President Goodluck Jonathan had sacked former IG, Suleiman Abba, for reasons left to conjecture, thus making Abba’s tenure the shortest since Nigeria’s independence.  He was appointed IG on August 1, 2014 and was sacked on April 21, 2015. The coming of Arase brings to four the number of IGs whom Jonathan’s administration has worked with within four years.

The manner of Abba’s removal was shocking, essentially because there were no reasons given for it. Newspaper reports merely speculated that his removal could be linked to the high-powered intrigues which characterised this year’s general elections. We do not question the integrity of the new IG, but we are concerned about the turnover of holders of that esteemed position in Nigeria. Arase is noted to be a fine police officer with an impressive pedigree. His name was even previously suggested as one of those that could succeed Mohammed Abubakar, but he lost the post to Abba. Until his appointment, he was the DIG in charge of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department. He holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Law, Political Science and Strategic Studies and he is also a Fellow of the Nigerian Defence College. With these imposing credentials, we do not doubt his competence. But we believe that certain things are still missing around the Nigeria Police Force.

There is an urgent need for Nigeria to insulate the police from politics. This absolute power of firing an IG by the President is not healthy for the nation. An IG should hold allegiance to the country only and we strongly suggest that the IG should have a tenure, for that is the only way to save him from the whims and caprices of the president. Abba’s removal is suspect though, as it is happening just at the twilight of this administration. Now, how sure are we that the in-coming administration will retain him as IG, since it is customary for every new government to appoint its own IG.

If Arase is retained by Buhari’s administration, which is what we suggest for the sake of continuity, it could be a confirmation that Nigeria is on her way to practical reengineering. Then, the new president should call for a constitutional amendment that will make the police accountable to Nigerians only. Section 215 (3) of the Constitution and Sections 9 (4, 5) and 10 (1, 2) of the Police Act should also be amended to remove operational control of the police from the President and return it to the IG who is a professional.

The duplication of ministries around the police should be addressed. There is the Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Police Affairs; Ministry of Internal Affairs and; even, there is the Police Service Commission, as well as the Police Council.

Mohammed Abubakar brought some sanity into the police force during his tenure. He scrapped police check-points and prepared a Code of Conduct for the force, which Abba also used. Arase should continue from there and at the same time seek to strengthen community policing and reduce corruption in the force.