What Jonathan should Consider In Choosing New Police Chief, By Dele Agekameh
As stakeholders in the enterprise called Nigeria, we all have a duty to provide useful insights that could properly guide the President on his choice of a good successor for IGP Abubakar. The bottom line is that there is the need to find a suitable successor who is capable of moving the police forward in these trying times.
While Nigerians, particularly the security agencies, are still engrossed in the war against terrorists in the country, it is almost certain that the incumbent Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, will, anytime from now, proceed on his terminal leave, preparatory to his final retirement from the Nigeria Police Force. Abubakar has served for about 35 years, having enlisted on July 30, 1979. In the civil service, retirement is determined by either clocking the age of 60 years or 35 years in service, whichever comes first.
Writing under the headline:“Presidency shops for IG Abubakar’s replacement”, one of the nation’s tabloids recently informed its readers that “the search for a new police chief has begun”. According to the report, “likely to make the PSC’s list are Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) Suleiman Fakai and DIG Michael Zuokumur.Also likely are Assistant Inspector-Generals (AIGs) Solomon Arase, Sulaiman Abba, Hassma Agungu, Bala Hassan and Baba Adisa Bolanta”.
According to the report, “the IG is not likely to come from the Southwest since the region has produced Alhaji A.K. Smith and Alhaji Tafa Balogun. The Chief of Air Staff is also from the Southwest and has not been in that position for more than four months…It is not also likely to be from South-south since the President and the Chief of Army Staff are from that region and PSC (Police Service Commission) Chairman Mike Okiro has also been IG. The IG is likely to come from North-central but where we cannot get a good candidate from there, the position could still remain in Northwest”.
The report quoted a police source as saying that “the Presidency ensured that Zuokumur, the DIG in charge of ‘B’ Department, was elevated to that position to prepare him as IG. Zuokumur was AIG in charge of Zone 4, Makurdi, Benue State, before his elevation. He is from the President’s home state, Bayelsa. Fakai is the DIG in charge of ‘A’ Department. He is from Kebbi State, which is in the Northwest”. The report also has it that “another source at the PSC was said to have narrowed down the choice before the President to three candidates – Arase, Abba and Bolanta”.
Obviously, Abubakar has tried his best. But trust Nigerians. The gossip out there is that the IG may have lobbied for an extension of tenure which was rejected by the President who prefers that he leaves when his tenure expires. If actually there was a lobby, the President might have turned it down in view of the prevailing atmosphere in the country. Today, the nation is confronted by a worsening security situation which is aggravated by ceaseless attacks by the Boko Haram terrorists group now on rampage in the North of the country, particularly the Northeast, where a state of emergency has been in place for more than one year. In spite of this, there seems to be no let-up. Presently, more than 250 students of Government Girls’ College, Chibok, Borno State, have been held as hostages by the terrorists who abducted them from their dormitories on the night of April 14, 2014.
In the last few weeks, the terrorists have successfully detonated their lethal wares outside their traditional strongholds in the Northeast. First was the powerful bomb blast that killed more than 100 people and injured many others at the busy Nyayan bus terminus, near Abuja, on Monday, April 14, 2014. While the dust was yet to settle down, there was the Kano bomb blast of Sunday, May 18, 2014, in which no fewer than nine people were killed while scores were wounded. On Tuesday, May 20, the terrorists were on the prowl again, this time, in Jos, which is just recovering from many years of sectarian violence and bloodletting. The city’s rowdy Terminus Market was hit by a twin bomb blast that left more than 200 people dead and many more injured. The killings in the Northeast have not abated either.
One thing is that with the moral and professional albatross hanging on the neck of some of the officers mentioned, it is not likely that the President may be looking at their direction. One of the officers is Fakai. As Commissioner of Police in Katsina State during the tenure of the former President, the late Umaru Yar’Adua, as Governor of the state, Fakai was said to have incurred the wrath of late Yar’Adua. The late Yar’Adua was said to have given the State Police Command some welfare package to be given to each of the policemen in the Command for not involving themselves in the attempted strike action by the junior cadre of the force while he was governor. However, it was later discovered that the welfare package was not used for that purpose but converted to personal use by the hierarchy of the Police under Fakai. That worsened his relationship with the governor. It further deteriorated with the CP’s romance with the opposition All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP. This became intolerable to the ruling PDP, and the late Yar’Adua had no other choice than to request for the redeployment of Fakai out of Katsina State.
Similarly, another senior police officer at the Police Headquarters may have to contend with the ghost of the late Yar’Adua. That officer is Dan’Azumi Job Doma, an AIG, who was also one-time CP in Katsina State. Doma was CP when the incident leading to the mysterious death of one Alhaji Tasi Katsina, a PDP Leader and supporter of the then President Yar’Adua, occured in 2008. It was the day Justice Umar Abdullahi, former President of the Court of Appeal, was turbaned Walin Hausa by the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar at Daura, Katsina State. A report was made against Alhaji Tasi that he mobilised a youth group at his home town, Mashi, to boo the governor and his entourage on their way to Daura to attend the turbaning ceremony. Following the report, Alhaji Tasi was invited to the CP’s office, where, in the process of interrogation by the CP, Alhaji Tasi suddenly collapsed and later died in a hospital as a result of what was attributed to the CP’s personal harassment. That irritated the governor who made sure that Doma was transferred out of the state. This may now hunt him.
A plethora of petitions also greeted the elevation of Bala Abubakar Hassan from the rank of CP to an AIG by the PSC, on August 12, 2012. He was promoted without first determining some cases against him. Successive IGs too have also received but failed to act on petitions against Hassan. In one of the allegations of “conspiracy, forgery and stealing”, brought against Hassan while serving as CP Rivers, the report of investigation by the Police Special Fraud Unit allegedly indicted him. It was widely considered an act of debauchery that the PSC could promote such a man who carries a heavy moral baggage rather than sanctioning him as deterrence.
With the terrible state of insecurity currently starring the nation in the face, nothing less than a clean sweep at the Police Headquarters in Abuja will bring the desired change in the country’s approach to solving this endemic insecurity problems. As stakeholders in the enterprise called Nigeria, we all have a duty to provide useful insights that could properly guide the President on his choice of a good successor for Abubakar. However, the bottom line is that there is the need to find a suitable successor who is capable of moving the police forward in these trying times. Such a person should, in addition to high professional performance capability, be able to parade good moral credentials that are needed to galvanize the present crop of men and women in the force into action. There is no doubt that there are still officers with good moral and professional credentials in NPF, my only prayer is that the post of the IG should not be compromised or sacrificed on the altar of political exigency to the detriment of the security of the country.