A new Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, formally took over the leadership of the Nigeria Police Force on Wednesday, following the retirement of his predecessor, Solomon Arase, a day earlier. The new police boss was an Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) in charge of Federal Operations, Force Headquarters, until his new appointment.
Born on January 15, 1959, he enlisted in the force in 1984 after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and later a Law degree from the University of Maiduguri. He served in the Police Mobile Force for 17 years, and ended up as its commandant. He also served as Commissioner of Police for Nasarawa and Kano states. Abroad, he served in the United Nations Mission in Liberia and East Timor and was awarded the “Medal of Merit” by the President of East Timor.
The new Acting IGP Idris came into office with great optimism. He has promised to escalate the anti-corruption campaign of the present administration by strengthening Police X-Squads throughout the country and providing incentives and logistics for officers to effectively play their role in the fight against corruption. He also promised to re-organise the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) to tackle violent crimes.
Perhaps, his most important promise is his plan to establish forensic laboratories in all the six geo-political zones which would boost police investigation capacity and effective crime prosecution. No less remarkable is his plan for “Joint Operation Centres”, which would serve as effective coordination hubs with other security agencies to enable synergy and rapid response to major crises at the shortest possible time.
It is obvious from indications so far that President Muhammadu Buhari made a bold and potentially good choice in Idris. Age is also on his side. The tenure of IGPs in recent times has been between 12 and 15 months. Mr. Idris will top three years before he is due for mandatory retirement, at which time he should have been able to accomplish some of the vital tasks he has set for himself. We urge the Nigeria Police Council to expedite his confirmation to enable him devote his full attention to his plans.
The herculean tasks that have faced all new IGPs in recent years are waiting for Mr. Idris, in addition to the ones he has chosen by himself. He is bound to be confronted by a force that is widely viewed by the public as corrupt. It might require super-human effort, but we trust that with honest leadership, the support of President Buhari and the goodwill and cooperation of all Nigerians, he could usher in a new dawn in the image of the Police. We also wish to say that he has the responsibility to remind his officers and men that the Nigeria Police is a civil force. The temptation to resort to deadly force is always high when men are armed with automatic weapons and that is where discipline and training come to bear.
The essence of police work remains the prevention, detection and prosecution of crime. To do these efficiently needs a lot of hard work. We urge Mr. Idris to re-orientate the force to be proactive, because prevention is better than cure. But if disaster strikes and crimes are committed, the perpetrators must be promptly apprehended and prosecuted. There are so many unsolved crimes, so many high profile murders that should present challenges to the new IGP.
It does not make any Nigerian happy when Nigeria Police cells are cited as scenes of torture and other inhuman and degrading treatment of suspects. We think the Police should review the issue of detention of suspects and how to do police work without violating the constitutional rights of citizens. Too many citizens are held beyond the constitutionally stipulated period before being taken to court, too many so-called ‘illegal’ withholding charges are being written. We do not discount the difficulties of police work – the rise in violent crimes, armed robbery, kidnapping, rape, murder, assault, gangsterism and cultism. The takeover of highways by robbers, for example, the Shagamu-Benin Expressway, is getting too frequent. But it must be done according to law. The security of life and property is basic to civil existence. Everyone in the country deserves protection, not just the rich, the politicians and other elites, for which a high percentage of the force is deployed.
The welfare of the Police should get the utmost attention of IGP Idris. The immediate past IGP, Solomon Arase, did well in this regard and in the bursting of crimes, so the new IGP must continue where he stopped. He must keep working at improving police welfare, as a deprived force is more amenable to corruption. The new IGP’s job is clearly well cut out for him. We congratulate him and wish him success.