The presidential directive was plain and direct. The Inspector-General of Police should dismantle the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). When the directive got to Inspector General of Police Adamu Mohammed, many security observers thought that the IGP would have explained the true situation to his boss, the Commander-in-Chief, but not so with the IGP, who, from all indications, is already dreaming of January 30, 2021, when he would officially drop his uniform and heave a sigh of relief, as many other IGPs have done before him.
Looking back, there are IGPs of note, IGPs with no good record and IGPs who left behind a great legacy. History would judge if Adamu really ended well, even as his tenure is barely two more months to his retirement.
What is on the lips of many is, what is the next step by the police hierarchy? When Adamu was appointed IGP in January 2019, this writer was away in Egypt and I wrote a piece titled “A Daniel has come to judgement,” wherein I formally introduced him from the lens of a crime reporter covering the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Alagbon, Lagos, in 1990, tracing his antecedents to his appointment as the vice-president of the Internstional Police (Interpol). He stepped into the office of the IGP when the hashtag code-named #End SARS was first raging, after his predecessor, Mr. Ibrahim Kpotum Idris, an IGP whose tenure was clouded with controversies and maladministration.
In the above mentioned write-up, l recalled that “Only the jubilation that rent the air after his appointment means a lot in the police circle. Surely, the office of the Inspector-General of Police is not a child’s play, neither is it for people who are visionless, nor is the office for who would look the other way when innocent Nigerians are being trampled upon by irate armed policemen or hoodlums. Not even at the point where justice is denied them on flimsy excuses. Yes, it is for officers with sterner stuff and one who can exhibit milk of human kindness.”
Like a prophetic writer, it has become obvious that IGP Adamu read that piece and, like many office holders in Nigeria who change like the chameleon once they assume office, he has tranformed. Today, the same lackadaisical attitude that was embraced by his predecessor is haunting the outgoing IGP. Many observers have opined that, had the IGP taken the right step immediately he assumed office by tackling the raging demands of brutalised Nigerians and finding lasting solutions to bad behaviour of the police, things would have been different. Instead, only the tail of the deadly cobra known as SARS was cut off by the mere political pronouncement banning the SARS personnel from the road and other directives that were rehearsed pronouncement of former IGPs who did little to address all the public complaints against the unit.
The Nigeria Police that used to pride itself as the friend of the people has turned out to be an enemy of the people, with numerous claims of gross acts of brutality and brazen wickedness levelled against the institution. All these are sequel to the IGP’s indecision to act fast.
It is clear that, because he is on his way out, Adamu wanted to sweep the issue under the carpet, trying to buy time, so that he would not be involved. Others reason that he waisted time in taking action so that the blame would be dropped on the doorstep of the Commander-in-Chief. But must the President be dragged into an issue that his appointee ought to have taken decision upon?
Had the IGP requested for the documentation of all the erring SARS personnel across the country, with a view to investigating each case by verifying their autenticity and slating them for prosecution that would be made public, all the hullaballo wouldn’t have taken place. Nigeria is full of leaders who wait for simple issues to metamorphose into public demonstrations and outrage before they wield the big stick.
The IGP is in touch with members of the public and must have received intelligence report on the demonstrations and the likely gravity of the gathering storm of protesters. Now that all personnel of SARS have been reintegrated into the main police body, without any concrete measure concerning their retraining, psychological checks and ensuring that adequate punishment is netted out to deviant personnel as a deterrent factor to others, now that the unit has been disbanded and there are talks pointing at total reformation of the police, so, what next?
Would another IGP be appointed to continue with the recurring issue of #EndSARS?
The military in the President’s eye
“The soldier is also a citizen. In fact, the highest obligation and privilege of citizenship is that of bearing arms for one’s country.”
– George S. Patton
Experience is guarded effort that is used to arrange future steps. As a Second World War veteran general of the elite United States of America Army, George Smith Patton Jr. must must have seen it all. He understood the mindset of a trained soldier at the war front defending his country.
Military generals, especially war generals, are special homo sapiens, a human breed that is exceptional in thinking and calculating in assessment of happenings and challenges. lndeed, war generals are professionally distinct and profound in their judgement because of their training and discipline. Nigeria can boast of many of such war generals who are outstanding.
One of such war generals is the sixth democratically elected President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. It is not his political nor economic policies that are in focus here but his assessment as regards the performance of the military since 2015, when he was sworn in as President.
Before his ascension, a civilian with no military training was the President and there was an abysmal failure in contending with the number one security issues in the country. The Boko Haram terrorist group had flexed their muscles from Sambisa forest in Borno State and penetrated the Federal Capital Territory and had succeeded in startling military barracks, police headquarters, United Nations building and other key areas in Abuja. Two Lietenant Generals Azubuike Ihejirika and Kenneth Minimah were appointed by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan as Chief of Army Staff but, unfortunately, they were unable to fashion out a winning strategy, as the terrorists had the upper hand.
(To be continued)