Sunday, March 30, 2014

NEWS UPDATE: Appointment of new IGP puts Presidency in a fix

As the search for the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) intensifies, the Presidency appears to be in a fix as to who will be more competent to succeed the incumbent IGP, Mohammed Abubakar, an Aso Rock source has disclosed to Sunday Independent.

This is as Abubakar (56), an indigene of  Zamfara State, who joined the Nigeria Police Force on July 30, 1979, is due for retirement in July 2014, by which time he would have reached the compulsory retirement age.

He was appointed the Acting IGP in January 2012 and was confirmed as IGP in July 2012.

Section 215 (1a) of the 1999 Constitution puts the appointment of the IGP in the hand of the President, “on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council, from among the serving members of the Nigeria Police Force.”

The President is the Chairman of the Council.

Insinuations are rife that the president is looking at a candidate with a tough personal backed by experience.

A source, which pleaded anonymity, said, “Apart from the political consideration, the presidency is looking for a more experienced,  vibrant and no-nonsense man, who has been tested and known to have handled complicated security situations in the country, so that the issue of the Boko Haram and other security challenges can be tackled once and for all.’

The source however, disclosed the most senior Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Suleiman Dauda Fakai, defying last minute political maneouvering, may take over from Abubakar.

He is currently in charge of the Administration Department of the Force.

Fakai, who hailed from Kebbi State, joined the Force in 1984 as a Cadet ASP, and is scheduled to retire in 2019.

Promoted to DIG in February 2012, he was once the Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge Zone 3, AIG Zone 5, Benin, AIG Force Secretary and AIG Zone 2, Lagos.

He was also at a time the Commission of Police of Osun State.

He is said to be highly favoured because of his clean track records and exceptional performance in all of the assignments he had handled over the years.

Another factor that endears Fakai to the authorities, according to our source, “is that he has worked closely with the former IGPs and hence, have an in-depth understanding of the workings of the office. ‘He has also handled various crucial national assignments successfully.

“This has placed him on top of every contender of the office.”

The source, however, revealed that a serving ‘controversial’ Commissioner of Police (CP), is also being mentioned as a contender of the position.

“The choice of the next IGP is difficult because among the contenders, there are both CPs and DIGs, who have been tested, proven and are seen to be capable of doing to the job,” he stressed.

He, however, declined to mention the names of the ‘controversial CP’ and other contenders of the position.

When asked whether there are plans to forcefully retire some senior officers, such as DIGs and AIGs, to pave way for a more preferred junior officer, the source said: “Well, I can’t tell you that because, I am not in the heart of the president.

“But as you know, it is not an impossibility. It depends on who the president wants among the most qualified and competent names before him.

“Let me give you an instance, if the president feels that a current Commissioner of Police (CP) is more preferred, it is instructive that Deputy DIGs and AIGs must resign or be retired to prepare ground for the CP.

“If you can still remember very well, Abubakar was an AIG when he was appointed, and in order to pave way for him, six senior officers -DIGs – were immediately retired.

‘However, there is another factor that is being considered, which also depends on the president.

“2015 general elections will be few months away when the IGP will finally retire; there is therefore the need for someone that is already on ground to superintend the election.

“Some forces in the corridors of power are suggesting that Abubakar’s tenure be extended to allow him to supervise the elections.

“On the contrary, those rooting for Fakai are of the view that since he has been working closely with the current IGP, he has the capacity to handle any situation, including the 2015 general elections.”

On whether the elongation of the tenure of the IGP is constitutional, the source said, “All this depends on the President, there is no issue of constitution here.”

However, a top ranking officer at the Force Headquarters, who pleaded anonymity, ‘because I am not competent to speak,’  said the position for the next  IGP can be best handled by Fakai, if those behind him are strong enough to get him through.

This, according to the source, “Is because Fakai has endeared himself in the heart of both the senior officers and the rank and file. “Apart from being the most senior officer, he has the expertise, experience and strong character to do the job.

“It is only Fakai that will succeed Abubakar and most of the senior officers will still remain in service.

“Otherwise, if a more junior person is given the position, most of the senior officers will have to be retired, or they resign.

“You can see why most of the senior officers will support his emergence as the next Inspector General. This will also entail strong cooperation by the officers for him to succeed. ”

Other DIGs that are said to be major contenders of the position of the IGP include DIG Atiku Y. Kafur, who now heads the Department of Training; DIG Abdulrahaman O. Akano, who heads Department of Research and Planning; DIG Zuokumor Michael,  one of the two newly promoted DIGs;  DIG Jonathan Johnson, who heads the Department of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).

Others are: DIG Emmanuel Udeoji, from the South East, in charge of the Department of Logistics and Supply, and DIG Peter Gana from North Central, in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Department.

However, some AIGs are said to be good contenders too, as according to our source, the emergence of one of them would mean the automatic retirement of the all the DIGS, which our source said, ”will reduce the already overcrowded top hierarchy of the Force.”

Responding to a question from Sunday Independent on whether the President has the constitutional power to extend the tenure of the IGP, a legal practitioner, Musa Saleh, said: “Yes, the president has the power to extend the tenure of the IGP for about six months after his retirement before appointing a new person to occupy the office. “After six months, he cannot add even a single day for him, as it has become illegal.

“With this, the president has the right to allow the current IGP to remain in office and superintend over the next elections. This also depends on when the election is taking place, anyway.”

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