Some context first: In June 2016, Solomon Arase, the former inspector general of police (IGP), retired from the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) after attaining the mandatory retirement age of 60. He was the only “senior officer” retained from the previous administration for as long as 13 months.
Arase may not have been the best police officer in Nigeria’s history, but Saint Ibrahim Idris, the current IGP and his litany of unforced errors make Arase look so good, you could take him for the best we’ve had. Before Arase’s exit, the compass was already pointing in the way of one Ibrahim Idris, who was a commissioner of police only a few months ago.
According to his records, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, was the commissioner of police, who supervised the security apparatus for the controversial Kano presidential election of 2015, where President Muhammadu Buhari got nearly two million votes. After the elections, Idris was promoted to assistant inspector general (AIG), and in a few months, he was named the acting inspector general of police to take over from Arase.
As expected, this move angered his superior, who had been AIGs and DIGs (deputy inspector generals of police) for years, before Idris even became a commissioner. The convention took its course, about 30 AIGs and a handful of DIGs were forced to retire. Their experience, their service, their sacrifice, and their aspirations to the office of the IGP was let down the drain.
Though the controversy was in the brewery, Nigerians expected a lot from the new IGP, who had massive experience from numerous foreign missions. In his first press briefing as the announced IGP, Idris gave a ray of hope and promised the security of life and property.
“That is the issue of integrity and accountability, issue of respect for diversity, issue of compassion, issues of ensuring that our streets, our neighbourhoods, our communities remain safe,” Idris had promised.
“We are going to do everything possible to ensure that we provide the best service to this country,” he added.
THE IDRIS WE NOW KNOW
As the substansive IGP, Idris had committed many sins, which led me to conclude that he was going to be one of the major men to ensure President Buhari does not get a second term. In February, I argued that there is hardly “anyone in this dispensation that has angered the electorate as much as Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police, and his men have done in the past year”.
Under his leadership, the Nigeria Police Force was ranked the worst in the world by the World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) for 2016. Rather than take time out to seek improvement, Idris and his men said they were the best in Africa. In the same breath, the IGP and his men paid lip service to the promise to reform the NPF, following citizen action on the ENDSARS movement.
With Idris at the helm, there has also been a disturbing increase in the arrest of journalists and bloggers in Nigeria. His reign has been a threat to free speech for journalists. This Idris is committing so many atrocities in the name of maintaining law and order, while the places in need of law and order are becoming national atrocities.
Global rankings for press freedom has gotten worse under Buhari and this IGP. Nigeria now sits at 122 of 180 countries surveyed, falling from 111 under former president Goodluck Jonathan and ex-IGP, Solomon Arase.
THE BENUE CONUNDRUM
In the wake of the Benue massacre, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered Idris to relocate to Benue and ensure law and order in the land. Rather than do this, Idris and his men got into a verbal bout with Samuel Ortom, the Benue state governor. Jimoh Moshood, the police spokesperson, described the governor of Benue state as a drowning man. Such insensitivity. As always, nothing happened from Idris’ end.
The house of representatives passed a voted of no confidence on the IGP, calling on the president to replace him with a professional officer, seeing as “it is obvious the IGP is incapable of his job”. But the president did not blink an eye.
Finally, the president himself gets to visit Benue and realise that the IGP was not only being disrespectful to citizens he swore and promised to protect, but was being disrespectful to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the grand commander of the federal republic, Muhammadu Buhari, who appointed him to the tall office.
In his own admission, Buhari said “I’m not aware that the IG did not spend 24 hours in the state as directed by me, I am getting to know in this meeting”. Apparently, the IGP disobeyed the president, but his head may not roll.
BUT WHY WON’T BUHARI LET IDRIS GO?
Nigerians have expressed reservations, the national assembly has said a thing or two against the IGP, the president himself has seen his own orders being flouted by this IGP, and most importantly, fear and insecurity in the country are on the rise, and the police under Idris seem clueless. What other reason does the President need to take drastic steps on Idris and the police force?
Did IGP Idris offer Buhari a favour during the 2015 elections in Kano? Is there a 2019 outlook to this? Or like Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman said, Idris sins are still “in the realm of allegations?” Well, his sins may be in the realm of allegations, but the death of 73 people in Benue is not in the realm of allegations, and more in other parts of the country are not in the real of allegations. The arrest and detention of journalists is not in the realm of allegations, the rising insecurity in Nigeria is in the realm of reality, and like Buhari said, Nigerians have no other home but Nigeria, so we have to make it work.
Mr. President, Nigeria is counting on you.