If all things were equal, the current Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu would have taken a bow from the police on the 1st of February, 2021; having served the mandatory 35 years in the police force. But unfortunately, after three days of creating a tensed atmosphere on the exact status of the office of the IGP, President Muhammadu Buhari extended the tenure of Mohammed Adamu as the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by three months. The Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi had disclosed the development on Thursday while briefing State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Mr. Dingyadi said the extension was necessary to give room for the proper selection of a successor. Nevertheless, many were not surprised.
The IGP as at last week was still going about in his official capacity, he even presided over meetings. Commentaries trailing this development confirm that the body language of President Muhammadu Buhari showed that the IG may get tenure extension against the Police Act’s Single Term which the President himself assented to, on September 15, 2020. And it happened. The provision of the Police Act 2020, fixes in section 7 (6) 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. Section 18 (8), of the same Act signed by President Muhammadu Buhari stipulated 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 years, whichever is earlier”.
What is going on in the Police Force now is a repeat of what happened in the military whereby the President refused to let the service chiefs go when the ovation was loudest and this development to say the least resulted to low morale within the rank and file of the officers. We also recall how Mr. Ibrahim Magu illegally occupied his office as Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) even after he was rejected two times based on damning report by the DSS of this same government which said he failed the integrity test. The state of the nation, security wise, does not call for politicization of the office of the IGP which is very critical for internal security of the country especially now that banditry and kidnapping have become a way of life for so many disgruntled elements masquerading almost everywhere.
Several Nigerians are of the view that the country does not have an Inspector General of Police because the last one has retired by effluxion of time, statutorily and constitutionally. Consequently, President Buhari cannot by an administrative fiat recreate the law. The only organ that can remake the law is the National Assembly. The only way the President can remedy the situation is by withdrawing the tenure elongation and appointing someone from the serving DIGs and AIGs. The myriads of problems currently facing the country are enough to keep the President thinking on how the country would come out from this sorry state of misery and despair more pronounced now than before and not to allow the tenure of the IGP, clearly spelt out by the provisions of the police ACT 2020, and backed by the Police Service Commission (PSC), to take yet another toll on the polity.
The tenure elongation of the IGP by three months however indicates that a new precedence has been set in the police force that may be subject to debate in the years to come. In the eye of the law, the action of Mr. president is unconstitutional and may have once again cast a dark spot on the police Act single term that was not ambiguous and clearly stated the retirement age of an IGP without any option.