Still On Amina Zakari And IGP Idris

Charles Okoh

Perhaps, two of the major stories in the country last week, were reports on the continued stay in office of the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, having been due for retirement on January 3 and the new assignment given to Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) commissioner, Mrs. Amina Zakari, as head of collation centre for the forthcoming presidential election at the commission’s Abuja office.

Idris, the nation’s 19th Inspector General of Police, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 21, 2016, to replace Solomon Arase, who retired from the police force on June 21, 2016. The 59-year-old Niger State-born police chief is due for retirement having enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force in 1984, after graduating from the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria with a bachelor’s degree in Agriculture.

However, there had been rumour that President Buhari may extend the tenure of Idris, despite having completed the mandatory 35 years of service on January 3. It has also been rumoured that his continued stay in office has been creating tension within the rank and file of the police force.

Some argue that since he was born on January 15 he is supposed to go on January 15, when he will be 60 years. Whichever way one wants to look at it, IGP Idris has no business being in office beyond January 15. Since the president has failed to allow him go on retirement when he reached the mandatory 35 years of service, he must not stay beyond January 15 when he will attain 60 years of age.

For those who think the rumoured retention of the IGP is for political reasons, how does one blame them when as we speak the president has continued to retain the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin; Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai; Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Sadiq Abubakar, even when they ought to have been retired?

Any genuine Nigerian who is not carried away by sentiments or not incurably partisan ought to be worried by the effect of all of these on our institutions. If they all enjoy extension of tenure even when it is difficult to put a finger on any remarkable achievements they had in office, on what basis are they still being retained, thereby creating a groundswell of disaffection and discontentment within the institutions they represent.

Sometime in March 2018, the president when he visited Benue State following the wanton killings of innocent citizens by suspected Fulani herdsmen, openly expressed surprise that the IGP did not carry out his order that he be relocated to Benue to quell the crisis in that state.

The president had said, “What I did was to call him and give him the directive. I didn’t know he moved here (Benue State) and didn’t spend … and then moved to Nasarawa. It’s only now that I am knowing that. But I know I dispatched him here.”

This is also an IG that has continued to drag the police into politics with his actions. As at Friday the Police had stationed its men for eight days in the compound of loquacious Senator Dino Melaye. It was also reported that the police fired canisters of tear gas and as well cut electricity and water supplies to the senator’s Abuja residence.

In a statement by the force’ Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, on Friday, the police said the senator alongside his ‘armed thugs’ shot one Sergeant Danjuma Saliu in July.

“The Police operatives currently in the residence of Senator Dino Melaye are to effect his arrest to answer to the case of attempted culpable homicide on the shooting of a Police Officer, Sgt Danjuma Saliu, attached to 37 Police Mobile Force (PMF) while on duty at a stop and search point along Aiyetoro Gbede, Mopa Road in Kogi State.

“The police will continue with the siege until the lawmaker is arrested,” the statement added. However, on Friday, the senator put an end to the melodrama as he eventually came out of his hiding after being persuaded by his colleagues who were on hand in his house in solidarity.

Meanwhile, Kogi State Governor, Mr. Yahaya Bello, has been having a running battle with Senator Melaye, to which the Senator had attributed his travails and also accused of attempt at his life. What have the police done by way of investigation to completely exonerate the cantankerous governor from the allegations of the senator? Are the police foreclosing the possibility that the governor may have set up the senator to finally silence him after his botched attempt to recall him as a senator?

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If Senator Melaye has been implicated, he is duty-bound to surrender himself to the police and face the full weight of the law of the land. However, was that the only way the police could effect his arrest? Must the police descend with the full weight of its men and machinery on the entire residence of the area all in the name of arresting a senator who is always in public places? Is Dino Melaye the only occupant of the house? If no why cut electricity and water supply to the building? What if the police had done this with men on mufti placed within reasonable distance from the building to be monitoring the movement of the senator as they do while trying to arrest criminals?

It is difficult to convince anybody that Melaye is not paying for his inability to keep his mouth shut and being permanently on the offensive against the president. IGP Idris involvements in matters that are clearly political in nature, might as well be the hallmark of his reign in office and his continued stay in office certainly will do the police more harm than good. Since he will attain the mandatory age of 60 on January 15 and has attained 35 years in service; he should not be given any extension of tenure in office, except perhaps, the government wants to continue to fuel the rumour that he is being kept for political expediency.

For Mrs. Zakari, her ‘sin’ according to the PDP is that she is a blood relation of the president. The presidency earlier on Friday clarified that Mrs. Zakari was not related by blood to Mr. Buhari.

“President Buhari and Commissioner Amina Zakari don’t share a family relationship. An inter-marriage occurred in their extended families, so the imputation of blood relationship between the President and the electoral commissioner is a simple lie,” Garba Shehu, Buhari’s spokesperson had said.

INEC while reacting to criticisms over Zakari appointment as head of its collection centre for the forthcoming presidential election in a statement by Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said Mrs. Zakari’s role as head of the collection center committee has nothing to do with actual collation of votes.

“The committee is primarily in charge of welfare. She was also very involved in negotiating with the ICC management in 2015 for the use of the facility so her duty is to ensure the facility is ready. She has no role whatsoever with the process of collation.”

For the opposition, the appointment is a grand design to manipulate the outcome of the election in favour of President Buhari.

Again, this is a completely unnecessary and avoidable tension in an already tensed political environment. Of all the appointments opened to INEC to take the commissioner to it is the very one christened collection centre. INEC wants Nigerians to believe that her role as the head of the collection centre for the presidential election is to man equipment and have nothing to do with the outcome from the machines. What INEC is saying in effect is like telling Nigerians that Mrs. Zakari, being the chief cook, will only prepare the gas and other utensils used for cooking for the chef; but will not be interested in the food being cooked.

Some have also argued that if she is qualified for the job, there is no reason raising issues over her appointment. She must be the only qualified Nigerian to take that responsibility for those who hold that position. The mere fact she is related to the President either by blood or through marriage is more than enough reason to cast very serious doubt on the outcome of the election, especially given her new assignment. Mrs. Zakara should be given another assignment outside INEC and must not have anything to do with the upcoming elections, except there is more to this than meets the ordinary eye.



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