Opposition political parties on Sunday resolved to begin nationwide protests from January 15 to force President Muhammadu Buhari to name a new Inspector-General of Police.
The parties, on the platform of the Coalition of United Political Parties, hinged their decision on the claim that the current IG, Ibrahim Idris, ceased to be a policeman since January 3 after 35 years in service.
The coalition’s position was contained in a statement by its first national spokesman, Imo Ugochinyere, in Abuja.
Ugochinyere said the position of the IG was currently vacant since Idris was deemed to have retired having served for 35 years, adding that the nation’s constitution did not make provision for a former police officer to be an IG.
He claimed that by parading himself as the IG after January 3, Idris was committing a crime of impersonation, describing the act as a threat to national security.
Ugochinyere said the protests would start once Idris was seen in police uniform around the force headquarters from January 15.
He added that the protests would be held in front of the police command headquarters of every state and would continue till the right thing was done.
The CUPP’s spokesperson called Buhari’s attention to the provision of Section 215(1)a of the 1999 Constitution which he said held that the President could only appoint a serving police officer as the IG.
Ugochinyere said, “This means that with the reaching of the mandatory retirement age of 35 years of active service on January 3, 2019 and the mandatory retirement age of 60 years while in service by the IG (which comes up on January 15, 2019), the IG is constitutionally barred from being retained or reappointed as the IG as he is no longer a serving police officer.
“His continued stay in office is illegal and an act of impersonation as there is no legal or documentary evidence to back up his stay as the IG.
“We call on President Buhari to be courageous to announce the replacement and not bow to the pressure to cement illegality in the core of the nation’s security architecture due to his desperation to rig himself back to power knowing he has been rejected by the Nigerian people.
“The uncertainty in the leadership of the police in such auspicious moment emboldens persons with sinister motives and demoralises senior officers of the force due to this abrupt and unlawful halt to their career progression.
“The law is clear on who can be appointed as the Inspector-General of Police and who cannot be appointed as Inspector-General of Police and Mr Ibrahim Idris is now in the latter group.
“It is flowing from this and to save our dear country from further drift from a government that lacks capacity to provide leadership to our country that the secretariat of CUPP hereby directs all coalition members in the 36 states to begin preparation for nationwide protests from January 15 if the retired IG is seen dressed in police uniform around the Force Headquarters.
“The protests will be in front of the police command headquarters of every state and shall be continuous till the right thing is done.”
He added, “During the protests, there shall be a declaration that since Mr Ibrahim Idris is no longer a police officer, he cannot be addressed as the IG and a call to him to steer clear of the Force Headquarters.
“By January 15, Mr Ibrahim Idris would have attained both 35 years (January 3, 2019) in service and 60 years of age (January 15, 2019) and he would have been roundly unqualified to occupy the office of the Inspector-General of Police.
“Finally, we call on President Buhari that he should realise now that he would be held personally responsible if there is a breakdown of law and order, loss of lives and property if he continues down this path of noxious plots to rig himself into power. A word is enough for the wise!”
On its part, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, asked the President to ensure that Idris proceed on retirement after his statutory age of 60 years on January 15, 2019.
HURIWA on Sunday in a release by its National President, Emmanuel Onwubiko, said, “The IG, who ought to retire on reaching the statutory retirement age of 60 on January 15, must proceed on pre-retirement leave immediately. We suspect that he has been positioned to use his operatives to manipulate the conduct of the February elections in favour of the authorities.”
IG still has a few days more – Presidency
However, the Presidency said the IG still had a few more days for his tenure to expire.
A Presidency source stated, “The IG has a few more days. He has a few days still.”
When the source was reminded that Idris turned 35 years in service on January 3, the source asked, “Was it 3rd?”
The IG will turn 60 years in service on January 15 by which time he would have met both retirement requirements on length of service and age.
By the service rule, an officer is deemed to have completed service if he has spent 35 years in service or turns 60 “whichever comes first.”
IG not packing anything from office, residence –Police source
But, The PUNCH learnt on Sunday that the IG had yet to start packing any of his personal luggage out of his office or his official residence.
Idris was said to be carrying on as if he had just been appointed, without considering that he ought to have proceeded on leave that would precede his retirement.
A senior police officer, who is close to the office of the IG, told one of our correspondents that Idris was not behaving like someone that would leave the force soon.
He said, “As we speak, there is nothing to suggest that oga (the IG) is retiring soon. All his personal belongings are still intact at his official residence and office.
“He is even planning to do transfer of some police officers soon. He has hope that President Muhammadu Buhari will allow him to stay back to conduct the elections.
“I don’t know where the confidence is coming from. He has told us that since the President has not retired the service chiefs, then there is no way he will be asked to leave when his retirement date is due.”