6 Weeks After, Ag. IGP Usman Alkali Baba’s Appointment Continues to Raise Dust

Six weeks after President Muhammed Buhari appointed the new acting Inspector General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali Baba as announced by Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, the Minister of Police Affairs, the dust is yet to settle on the matter.

Though Usman Alkali Baba has since April 6 replaced Mohammed Adamu whose tenure had ended in February but got extended for 3 months, Nigerians especially the human rights community including activists, lawyers and other stakeholders continue to query the appointment for many reasons.

First, many Nigerians had criticised the appointment immediately after it was announced on the ground that it was yet another sensitive appointment given to a Northerner, further fueling apprehensions about alleged nepotistic imbalance in the split of security chief appointments in Nigeria between the South and the North regions.

As at May 21, 2021, available data shows that from a regional analysis
of Nigeria’s security agency chiefs, including paramilitary and
anti-graft, the North has 12 out of 16 (75%) while only 4 (25%) are
headed by a Southerner. A closer look reveals that the following 12
agencies are headed by a Northerner – NDLEA (Adamawa), EFCC (Kebbi),
Federal Fire Service (Niger), Army (Kaduna), Navy (Kano), DSS (Kano),
NIA (Katsina), Immigration (Jigawa), Customs (Bauchi), FRSC (Kwara),
Civil Defence (Nassarawa), and Police (Yobe). Agencies headed by
Southerners are ICPC (Ondo), Correctional Services (Delta), Air Force
(Osun) and Defence (Delta). This obvious slant continues to fuel
agitations against perceived marginalization and domination of the
security architecture in favour of one region of the nation against the

In the same vein, the Human Rights Writers Association of
Nigeria (HURIWA), a prominent civil rights advocacy group, in a recent
statement was explicit and direct in flagging the inherent but avoidable
national quagmire. HURIWA said President Buhari’s failure to appoint
Deputy Inspector General of Police Moses A Jitoboh from Bayelsa, the
crude oil rich Niger Delta region in preference for the then Deputy
Inspector General of Police Usman Alkali Baba, a Moslem Northerner was
an opportunity missed to try to balance the representation of
Southerners and Christians in the internal security architectures of
Nigeria which is now dominated by Northern Moslems.

HURIWA argued
further that the anticipatory tenure extension of the current Acting
IGP Usman Alkali Baba could face legal storms if he is confirmed since
the relevant law governing the operation of the policing institution in
the Country clearly stipulates that a substantive Inspector General of
Police ought to spend 4 years.

The rights group’s reasoning
aligns with the background of the Nigerian Civil Service Rule which
states that every civil servant must statutorily retire after 35 years
of service or attaining 60 years of age as well as the new Nigeria
Police Act 2020 signed by President Buhari himself which prescribes 4
year tenure for an IG of Police.

So, stakeholders are curious to
know why the President appointed a DIG who has just two more years in
service instead of another who has 9 years before retirement if there
aren’t any ulterior agenda.

According to the statement, HURIWA
reasoned: “Such legal controversies and pitfalls could be avoided …and
the current administration would have minimally mitigated the obvious
unconstitutional practices of dominating the heads of internal security
architectures with persons from one section and one religious
affiliation which violates the Federal character principle of the
Constitution in section 14(3).

‘Part 111 Section 7 (6) of the Act
prescribes a four-year single tenure for a person appointed to the
office of the IGP and “We think any senior police officer who has less
than four years to retirement like the case of Usman Alkali Baba cannot
become an IGP.”

“We have nothing against the current Acting
IGP…but as committed patriots and Democrats, we are urging the President
not to take any action that could be termed an illegality going by the
fact that confirming Usman Alkali Baba as IGP will automatically means
ANTICIPATORY TENURE EXTENSION which is not envisaged in the extant
Police Act”.

“We know from evidence that Usman Alkali Baba joined
the NPF in 1988 while Moses Jitoboh enrolled in 1994. But it is
unacceptable to see the President make a choice of an officer who has
less number of years to be in the police as Acting Inspector-General of
Police whereas the law says the holder of the office of IGP should serve
for 4 years.”

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means that President Muhammadu Buhari has granted anticipatory tenure
extension to Usman Alkali Baba should the Nigerian Police Council to be
chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari goes ahead to confirm him as the
substantive Chief of police of Nigeria. This is unconstitutional.

18(8) of the 2020 Nigerian Police Act says retirement age for a police
officer is 60 years of age or 35 years of public service whichever comes
first. So proceeding with the confirmation of the appointment of the
Acting IGP as substantive IGP will undermine both the Nigerian
Constitution and the Nigerian police Act of year 2020 which was signed
into law by President Muhammadu Buhari”.

In another brilliant
article titled “On the IGP’s initial ‘overzealousness’” on April 26,
Emmanuel Onwubiko, a former Federal Commissioner at the National Human
Rights Commission of Nigeria also highlighted public concerns and issues
raised by IGP Usman Alkali’s recent appointment as well as the
perennial impacts of mediocrity and political interests on the Nigeria
Police hierarchy and institutional efficiency, submitting that, “Soon
after the cabal made the announcement of a new acting Inspector General
of Police whilst President Muhammadu Buhari was away in London, United
Kingdom on a medical tourism, it was revealed that Deputy Inspector
General of Police Moses Jitoboh who has 9 more years to spend in the
Police was shoved aside for Usman Alkali Baba who was rapidly made
acting Deputy Inspector General of Police to step up as the next
Inspector General of Police.

“To retire a Christian officer…and
then promote Usman Alkali Baba…is certainly not a way to rebuild a
police force that is rapidly declining and collapsing by the day. A
clear sign that the police have virtually collapsed are the cases of
kidnappings and targeted killings by armed non state actors whereas the
policing institution seems overwhelmed and defeated.

Just last
week, another stakeholder, an Abuja based legal practitioner, Barrister
Maxwell Okpara wrote an open letter to President Buhari, calling for the
sack of the Acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba.
Opara urged the President to

“avoid being misled into the destruction of
State Institutions with unnecessary politics and influence peddling.”

letter dated May 10, 2021 pointed out that “Nigeria is currently going
back to the same scenario of unnecessary distractions of lobbying and
attempts to subverts the clear provisions of the Constitution of the
Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Nigeria Police Act, 2020 by
desperate politicians who are only interested in 2023 elections and are
out to impose an unqualified IGP who they believe will do their bidding.

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Opara said,

“The subject matter of appointing a new Inspector-General
for the Nigeria Police Force has been one that I saw as an opportunity
for this great nation to rise above primordial cleavages and, for once,
abide by the letters and spirit of our laws devoid of politics, nepotism
and or religious and tribal sentiment.

“Mr. President will agree
with me that the wrongful extension of the tenure of the former IGP led
to an unnecessary distraction in the core responsibility of the police
as the then IGP became pre-occupied with lobbying to secure his office
rather than securing the lives and properties of Nigerians.

hired lawyers to present bizarre argument on his behalf with the
intention of turning the law on its head in order for him to remain in
office beyond his mandatory statutory retirement age.

wonders why the President of the Nigerian Senate whose chamber was
involved in the enactment of the Police Act, 2020 will be silent when a
clearly unqualified person is appointed as the IGP of Police at a time
that our nation is in need of 100% lawful actions required for
legitimacy in the security sector of our nation.

“Also, it is
greatly depressing to imagine that the Attorney-General of the
federation might have advised in support of such an unlawful appointment
as he has remained silent after openly defending the most illegal
tenure extension of the former IGP.

However, Barrister Ayodeji
Odukale of Ayodeji Odukale & Co Chambers in Lagos disagreed with the
calls. From his learned opinion, “There is no controversy. The Police
Act prescribes maximum number of years being 4 years. The Act also
prescribes number of years of service to be 60 years or 35 years in
service.  What this means is the present Police IG will retire once he
completes 35 years in service by 2023, or attains age 60 by 2023,
whichever comes first, simple.”

Stakeholders and Nigerians
generally who are worried about the heightened security challenges of
the nation, including high rate of kidnapping, banditry, murderous
herdsmen, extra judicial killing by security personnel, armed robbery
and ritual killings are waiting to see how the appointment of ag. IGP
Usman Alkali Baba which will terminate in 2023, a general elections
year, will assure a stable and more effective Nigeria Police Force.

Aliu Hassan is a rights activist and civil engineer based in Abuja

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