Furore over IGP’s tenure elongation

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The Minister of Police Affairs, Mohammed Dingyadi, penultimate week stirred the hornet’s nest when he disclosed that the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, would not be retiring midway into the 2023 general elections, disclosing that the police boss already has an appointment letter, extending his term in office.

Dingyadi, who briefed State House Correspondents after the first Federal Executive Council meeting of 2023, explained that the Police Act 2020 has changed the rules for an IGP’s retirement.

There have been speculations lately that the police chief, who will clock 60 years on March 1, 2023, may not honour the rule that mandates public servants to go on retirement at 60 due to the general elections that will be ongoing at that period. Before Dingyadi’s clarification, there were intrigues within the police high command and the corridors of power in Abuja in the foggy race for the police top job.

There had been concerns over the expected retirement of the IGP, as well as three Deputy Inspectors General of Police; many Assistant Inspectors General of Police; 10 Commissioners of Police; five Deputy Commissioners of Police; about 30 Assistant Commissioners of Police; over 35 Chief Superintendents of Police; 47 Superintendents of Police; 55 Deputy Superintendents of Police and70AssistantSuperintendents of Police in the first quarter of 2023.

Baba will turn 60 on March 1, 2023, four days after the presidential election and 10 days before the governorship elections scheduledforFebruary25 and March 11, respectively. According to Baba’s profile, he was born in 1963 and commissioned into the police on March 15, 1988, as a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police.

He will, therefore, be due for retirement on March 1, since the mandatory age for officials to leave public service is 60 years or after 35 years in service. President Muhammadu Buhari had appointed the then-DIGBaba as the acting IGP on April 6, 2021.

The Police Council confirmed him as the substantive IGP in June 2021. On its part, the Police Service Commission has made it clear that it will not extend the tenure of senior police officers who are expected to retire in the first quarter of 2023.

“ANY TENURE EXTENSION GIVEN TO THE IGP WOULD FURTHER CONFIRM THE ALLEGATIONS OF FAVOURTISM AND NEPOTISM LEVELED AGAINST PRESIDENT BUHARI SINCE HE TOOK OVER THE AFFAIRS OF THE COUNTRY IN 2015”

The commission said this on Tuesday in a statement by Ikechukwu Ani, its spokesperson. The commissions aid it took the decision at the end of its management meeting on Monday. The appointment and dismissal of the IGP are subject to the powers of the president, while that of other police officers are under the purview of the PSC.

In the statement, the commission said there are officers to fill up the expected vacant positions. The commission also said it would not extend the tenures of retiring senior police officers because it is illegal.

It is our point that the ongoing campaign for the extension of the tenures of some Deputy Inspectors General, Assistant Inspectors General, Commissioners and other senior police officers is an unnecessary distraction and an affront on all the existing laws in the country guiding entry and exit in the public service.

This is against all existing laws, Police Act, the Police Service Commission Act, and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because the police should have capable men and women who should be encouraged to step into the vacancies that would be created by the retiring officers.

The PSC must rigidly uphold the provisions of the law which stipulate that a serving public officer, whether in the police or in any other government agency, must exit the service at the age of 60 or having served for a period of 35 years.

We are aware that there is an institutional succession plan in the Nigeria Police Force, especially with the current injection of 10,000 Constables and several other thousands of cadet ASPs from the Police Academy every year.

We think that there should be no vacuum in the hierarchy of the Police with the touted retirement of hundreds of senior police officers. To admit that the exit of the retiring senior police officers will affect the success of the 2023 general elections is to allude to a notion of their indispensability.

For the purpose of emphasis, we state that nobody, not even the IGP, is indispensable. Just like in civil service, where the retirement age for public service officials is 60 years or after 35 years in service whichever comes first, the Police Act, signed by President Buhari recently, also pegs the retirement age ofpoliceofficersat60yearsofageor35yearsof service.

Specifically, Section 18(8) of the new Act states: “Every police officer shall, on recruit mentor appointment, serve in the Nigeria Police Force for 35 years or until the age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.” By law, the IGP is appointed by the president on the “advice” of the Police Council. The council is chaired by the president and has 36 state governors, the Chairman of the PSC, and the IGP as members.

But even when the Police Act pegs the retirement age of police officers at 60 years of age or 35 years of service, another sectional so pegs the tenure of the IGP as four years. For instance, Section 7 subsection 2 of the Act provides that: “The person to be appointed as Inspector General of Police shall be a Senior Police Officer not below the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police with the requisite academic qualification of not less than a first degree or its equivalent in addition to professional or management experience.”

It is our considered opinion that the clause that pegs the tenure of the IGP for four years after he has attained 60 years of age or 35 years of service contradicts the public officers’ rule and Section 18(8) of the Police Act.
Retirement is statutory in the police, military and civil service generally and should not cause any anxiety. Any tenure extension given to the IGP would further confirm the allegations of favourtism and nepotism leveled against President Buhari since he took over the affairs of the country in 2015.