Rethinking the unwritten law of forced retirement in the Police Force


The elevation of Assistant Inspector General Ibrahim Idris to the position of Acting Inspector General of Police is a good development for the beneficiary as it marks a fulfilment of his professional career. To his family members, friends and close associates too, it is no doubt a thing of joy.
Idris’ elevation does not, however, come with euphoric feelings for his superiors, the Deputy Inspectors General and his course mates, who as a matter of practice and protocol, are forced into peremptory retirement.
By the forced retirement, the new acting Inspector General becomes the most senior police officer in the land. And the development comes with many advantages that would contribute to the efficiency and effectiveness of the regimented organisation. Order would be obeyed without question and carried out to the letter, which would yield the expected result and effect that the issuing officer has in mind.
No room is given for nursing of grudges, at least, not openly,as opportunity is denied those who were superiors or coursemates to the new helmsman, who may want to take advantage of their earlier relationship to undermine his authority.
In such a setting, acrimony would be avoided and real police work would go unhindered. Security of lives and property would be enhanced, and the people’s political, socio-economic lives would be better. Devotion and dedication to duties would become the focus of the rank and file in the force.
The rancour-free relationship would, undoubtedly, raise cordiality and trust wihtin the force. However, this near perfect atmosphere, to say the least, is achieved at a great loss to the country. Most of the officers, whose retirement were foisted by the new appointment, had while in the service, enjoyed one form of training or the other. To be sure, they had attended courses at the Police Academy, Kano, Nigerian War College in Kaduna; the Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies at Kuru in Jos; Nigerian Institute of Management, Lagos, in addition to programmes in Europe, the United States of America and Asian countries, to hone their skills in policing and prepare them for management and leadership positions.
It is needless to say that the Federal Government must have spent huge state resources to fund the various training programmes and courses attended by compulsorily retired top-bracket cops.
No doubt. The hasty retirement of such skilled and knowledgeable personnel is a huge loss to the country as the benfit of their know-how will not only be lost, but will create a setback for a force struggling to catch up with modern policing methods.
Compulsory retirement in the Police Force did not start today, no doubt. During the days of the military in government, a successful coup meant an end of career to all officers who were senior to members of the junta who planned the coup. Most times, it is arbitrarily done.
On the part of the officers, peremptory retirement means that they would almost always not be professionally fulfilled. This, without fear of contradiction, is a fertile breeding ground for belly aching and deep-seated grouse that may induce an urge to sabotage the system that has wronged them. Worse still, such officers may not have given enough thought or plan to retirement. That way, the sudden retirement comes not only as a career shock, but it disorganises their life plans, sometimes irretrievably.
In other climes, such as the United States of America, the services of retired senior police officers, as those recently retired in the country, becomes needed more than ever. Most are engaged by government in ancillary and yet sensitive security duties and operations.
Rather than throw senior officers into early retirement, we believe that they could be redeployed to other areas where their wealth of knowledge and experience would still be beneficial. For instance, the Police Academy in Kano and other police colleges could have some of them as lecturers and research fellows, where they would serve out their service years instead of being made sacrificial lambs because their subordinate or course mate has been appointed an Inspector-General of Police.