IGP’s service extension: Why Buhari got it wrong

On September 16, 2020, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Bill into law. The law replaces its 1943 colonial antecedent which has regulated the Nigeria Police Force for 77 years with several provisions becoming obsolete over time. The Bill was passed by both chambers of the National Assembly by July 2020. The Nigeria Police Force (Establishment) Act 2020 seeks to provide for more efficiency in police service.

By the provision of Section 18(8) of the Bill, it is expressly stated that every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for a period of 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier. This provision thus prevents the extension of Police’s tenure of service.

Also, Section 215 of 1999 constitution as amended doesn’t give room for extension of service of the Inspector-General of Police, the President can only appoint but no where in the law he is asked to extend tenure of service.

However, there are rising discontents in the Nigeria Police over President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent extension of the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, whose has been long due to leave office since February 1, 2021.

By implication, President Buhari’s decision poses a contravention to the provisions of the Police Act 2020, which in Section 7 (6), fixes a single term of four years without an option of extension of tenure for the holder of the office of the Inspector-General of Police.

It reads: “A person appointed to the office of the Inspector-General of Police shall hold office for four years”, while Section 18 (8) of the Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 15, 2020, states the length of service of a police officer thus; “Every police officer shall, on recruitment or appointment, serve in the police force for 35 years or until he attains the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.”

In addition, the extension of the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police may dampen the morale of the rank and file, particularly the morale of officers whose promotion might be stagnated due to lack of vacancies which the domino effect of the retirement would have created.

You will recall that this is not the first time Mr. President will be extending the tenure of Inspector General of Police. In 2019, President Buhari approved six months extension of the years of the then Inspector General, Ibrahim Idris by prolonging his stay to June from the January retirement date, thus, retaining the IG for the 2019 general elections which begin in February.

Judging by all these legal parameters, it’s unsound and unconstitutional on the part of Mr. President to extend IGP Adamu’s service without following the basic provisions of the law. What are his (Buhari) reasons for the extension? Why should we be pampering old wagons in the force when we have vibrant young officers with enthusiasm to take us to the promised land? Is this not a sense that the rule of law is no longer operational in the country? Many questions on my mind begging for answers but I can only wish Mr President come out bold to tell Nigerians why he made that decision without considering the implication on the Nigeria Police Force and the citizens by extension.

A Texas, United States-based Nigerian econometric and social psychologist, Dr. Owen Hercules, has last year advised President Muhammadu Buhari against extending the tenure of the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, beyond the statutory February 1, 2021, under the guise of reforming the force but now a futile call since Mr. President has decided to take the ‘horn by the bull’ by acting contrary to what the law says in this stance. For the best interest of Nigerians and to safe the institution of the Nigerian Police from extinction, Mr. President should give a second thought to his decision and ensure that the right thing is done.

By Arogbonlo Israel, a Lagos-based journalist and good governance advocate