President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday sprung a surprise on the nation when he removed a former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, from his seat. In his place, the president, who was represented by the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi, announced a Deputy Inspector- General of Police (DIG) Usman Baba, as Acting Inspector-General of Police. That was even though the three-month extension granted Adamu on February 4, was yet to elapse.
But Dingyadi explained that the three-month tenure extension was terminated following the completion of selection process for a new IGP. Dingyadi said of the decision: “The president is aware of this and you cannot take away that responsibility from him; he’s the one who is in charge of appointing or extending tenures.
“He has now decided to appoint a new person. So, please, allow him that responsibility and we cannot do anything about it.” He explained that the appointment of the acting I-G followed a thorough check of a shortlist of suitably qualified police officers from the rank of DIGs and AIGs.
He said all the shortlisted candidates were police officers, eligible for appointment as I-G, in line with Section 7, Sub-section 2 of the Nigeria Police Act (2020). The appointment of Baba was with immediate effect. The removal of Adamu came just a day after gunmen burnt down the Imo State Police Command headquarters and set over 1800 prisoners free from the nearby Imo State Correctional Centre in Owerri.
In the Owerri attack, 36 vehicles were burnt, with 68 suspects escaping from police detention cells. Adamu had announced with glee that the attack was carried out by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and their Eastern Security Network (ESN). Incidentally, the Owerri attack came barely one week after a mass murder in Ebonyi State of about 15 people by alleged Fulani herdsmen.
It also came few weeks after the Governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom, escaped assassination by the skin of his teeth, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen. Adamu rather sent investigators to Benue to unravel the masterminds behind the Ortom attack, even when some groups of people had claimed to have attacked the governor. He also set up an inquiry into the Ebonyi attack but concluded rather hastily that the Imo attack was by IPOB and ESN. In what turned out to be his last assignment, he visited Owerri, the Imo State capital, with a marching order to policemen to eliminate IPOB members to the last man. According to Adamu: “Those who are attacking police officers and other security agents as well as security facilities should not think that they will get away with it.
Never!” We would have been surprised if the president refused to fire Adamu from his position. Buhari had earlier this year relieved his former Service Chiefs, who had served him since 2015 of their positions. The move to replace the former Service Chiefs was seen as an attempt by the president to reinvigorate the security architecture of the country. As at the time of the changes, only Adamu was left of the past security chiefs. Even at that, there was no question that the Police force was lagging behind in the bid to strengthen security across the country.
For a fact, in the past three months, several police stations across the South East and South South have been burnt down with many policemen killed on their beats. Even on Monday, as soon as Adamu left Imo State, hoodlums burnt down a police station at Ehime Mbano in the same state.
The story is not different in Enugu, Abia, Cross Rivers, Anambra, Akwa Ibom and other states around the area. We thought that rather than jumping into hasty conclusions on IPOB and ESN, there was the need for the Police to investigate more deeply to find out what or who is behind the new trend in the South East and South South. Or do we assume that the Police have intelligence on those behind the acts without acting on such intelligence? That is why we believe that the job of the new IGP, Baba, is clearly cut out.
He has to find what is responsible for the onslaught against the police in those regions and other parts of the country, where the Police have become endangered specie. We believe that his job is not about tagging groups and giving some others leeway to escape.
Rather, there is an urgent need for deep investigation into the emerging violence in the South East, South South, South West and parts of the North Central. The cases of the North East and North West are clear. The country is battling insurgents and bandits in those areas.
We also know that herdsmen are on the prowl in the southern states and parts of the North Central, who also has the added burden of bandits. We believe very strongly that the new IGP must be dispassionate in his job, figuring out the challenges faced by his men.
After all, by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution, the Police remain the primary security agency charged with maintenance of law and order. The invitation of the army is usually when the territorial integrity of the country is threatened. We believe that by being dispassionate and facing his job with Nigeria his real whole constituency, the new IGP would be able to know if there are lapses on the side of his rank and file, plug such and complement the efforts of the army in arresting what has become a national embarrassment. He must treat all criminals as criminals.