… Wasted opportunity to correct the religious imbalance

Prominent civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has described the appointment of Usman Alkali Baba as Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP as an opportunity missed trying to balance the representation of Southerners and Christians in the internal security architectures of Nigeria which is now one hundred percent dominated by Northern Moslems.

President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed Baba over his superior and a Deputy Inspector General of Police from South-South from Bayelsa,  the crude oil rich Niger Delta region in preference for a Moslem Northerner as Acting Inspector-General of Police.

In a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, the rights group said the anticipatory tenure extension of the current Acting IGP Usman Baba could face legal storms if he is confirmed since the relevant law governing the operation of the policing institution in the Country clearly stipulates that a substantive Inspector General of Police ought to spend 4 years.

HURIWA argued that the current acting IGP has just two years meaning that if he is confirmed, it automatically means anticipatory tenure extension which is not captured by the extant Nigerian Police Act of 2020.

According to HURIWA, such legal controversies and pitfalls could be avoided if the Deputy Inspector General of Police (names withheld) who has over seven years more in the Nigerian Police Force is made the substantive IGP meaning that the legal issues would be avoided and the current administration would have minimally mitigated the obvious unconstitutional practices of dominating the heads of internal security architectures with persons from one section and one religious affiliations which violates the Federal character principle of the Constitution in section 14(3).

HURIWA recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, in September 2020, assented to the Nigeria Police Bill, 2020, which was passed by the National Assembly.

The Rights group said amongst others, the new Police Act stipulates that a person to be appointed IGP shall be a senior police officer not below the rank of an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).

The prominent Civil Rights Advocacy Group said the extant police Act also says such a person must have an academic qualification of not less than a first degree or its equivalent in addition to professional and managerial experience.

According to it, Part 111 Section 7 (6) of the Act prescribes a four-year single tenure for a person appointed to the office of the IGP just as the Rights group argued thus: “We think any senior police officer who has less than four years to retirement like the case of Usman Baba cannot become an IGP.”

“We have nothing against the current Acting IGP neither do we even know or have seen Deputy Inspector General from Bayelsa.  But as committed patriots and Democrats, we are urging the President not to take any action that could be termed an illegality going by the fact that confirming Usman Baba as IGP will automatically means anticipatory tenure extension which is not envisaged in the extant Police Act”, HURIWA affirmed.

“We know from evidence that Usman Baba joined the NPF in 1988 while Moses Jitoboh enrolled in 1994. But it is unacceptable to see the President make a choice of an officer who has less number of years to be in the police as Acting Inspector-General of Police whereas the law says the holder of the office of IGP should serve for 4 years.”

“This means that President Muhammadu Buhari has granted anticipatory tenure extension to Usman Baba should the Nigerian Police Council to be chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari goes ahead to confirm him as the substantive Chief of police of Nigeria.

“This is unconstitutional.  Section 18(8) of the 2020 Nigerian Police Act says retirement age for a police officer is 60 years of age or 35 years of public service whichever comes first. So proceeding with the confirmation of the appointment of the Acting IGP as substantive IGP will undermine both the Nigerian Constitution and the Nigerian police Act of year 2020 which was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari,” HURIWA asserted.

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