Concerns are being raised about yesterday’s sack of the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, and his immediate replacement with Solomon Arese by President Goodluck Jonathan barely six weeks to the handing over of power to president -elect, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Abba, who is not due for retirement until March 22, 2019, was fired a day after he received in audience, the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle , who commended the police for a job well done during the 2015 elections.
Dr Reuben Abati, spokesperson to President Jonathan who announced the sack and replacement of Abba “with immediate effect,” did not give reasons for the actions taken by government, thus fuelling series of speculations and concerns.
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said: “We are studying what the law says concerning hiring and firing of IGPs and the provisions of the Police Act. Not until we do that, we cannot comment on the issue yet.”
A university lecturer, Professor Lakin Akintola, in an interview with Newswatch Times, said the president needed to convince Nigerians that he meant well. According to Akintola, who is also Director, Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), “An outgoing president is not supposed to be making high profile appointment. He is supposed to be preparing his handing over notes. It is like digging holes for the incoming government. He has to give us explanation that he meant well for the incoming government and this country by that sack and appointment of a new IGP, whether acting or not.”
In a press statement he later issued on behalf of MURIC, Professor Akintola said: “Tongues have already started wagging. Is President Jonathan really getting ready to handover? If so, why is he in a hurry to appoint a new IG for the incoming regime? Why should an IG be sacked shortly after the ruling party lost a general election? Is it that he did not ‘play ball’ during the elections? Did he refuse to obey illegal commands? These questions are very vital because the opposition had alleged that the Nigerian government relied on using security agencies to thwart the will of the Nigerian people.”
The statement added: “MURIC, therefore, tasks Mr. President to reveal the offence or offences committed by Mr. Suleiman Abba. This matter must come to the public court of the Nigerian people who are the end-users and tax-payers. Mr. President must assure Nigerians that he is not just destroying peoples’ careers because he is on his way out.
“We appeal to the incoming administration to be on the tip-toes of watchfulness. The people’s mandate must be jealously guarded. Nigerians voted for change. Heads of state are known to change service chiefs to strengthen their positions. The question here is should President Jonathan be preparing his handover note or strengthening his position? This singular act appears to have been taken to consolidate incumbency. Nigerians must be on guard. It is not over until it is over. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.
“The Buhari Transition Committee must declare clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that no unnecessary eleventh hour appointment can be made otherwise such will be declared ultra vires and of no effect whatsoever. Outgoing state governors must avoid saddling incoming state administrations with emergency appointments. Such appointments are, ceteris paribus, made with sinister motives.”
Also commenting, another civil rights activist, Debo Adeniran, said the IGP may have been fired for “failure to carry out the bidding of Jonathan and People’s Democratic Party to rig the election.”
Adeniran, Executive Director of Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, told AFP that “the timing of (Abba’s) sacking, especially few weeks after the general election which Jonathan lost is food for thought. It is even more intriguing because Abba still has some 10 years to go before retirement.”
The Chairman of Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), Ibrahim Zikirullahi, said he was yet to understand what Abba has done to warrant his removal.
“For me, President Jonathan is still in charge up to the time he hands over to the president-elect. So, the question we should be asking is, ‘what has Abba done just few days after the general elections?’ We wouldn’t know if it is based on misconduct. So, until the picture becomes clear before we can say what and what,” he said.
On whether the appointment may tie down the hand of the incoming government, Zikirullahi stated that every appointment will depend on the incoming administration’s conviction whether to work with anyone or not.
“Well, the incoming administration will certainly have his own cabinet whether Jonathan sacks Abba or not. But either way, it is still hanging in the balance,” he added.
On her part, the Director of Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Idayat Hassan, queried the basis upon which Abba’s sack was predicated.
She argued that the development was worrisome based on the fact that the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, even commended the sacked IG over the police conduct during the general elections a day before the sack.
“It is coming as a surprise and on what basis was his sack predicated? After all just yesterday (Monday), the US ambassador commended him and his men for a job well done during the elections. While the president has got the power to hire and fire or rather appoint and remove, this must be done with due process followed,” Hassan said.
The President of Children and Youth Awareness Development Foundation (CYAD Foundation), Mrs Temilola Odetola, was also not in support of the sack.
According to her, such a move was not a good signal for this nation.
“This is so because, for us, Mr Abba has done well in the 2015 general elections. He and his team were able to arrest those violent youth and it was as a result of the support of the stakeholders, especially the Nigeria Police, that we were able to succeed in the polls. INEC wouldn’t have performed without the stakeholders’ support. I think on a general note, the man should have been given a handshake, not a sack,” Odetola said.
IGP Abba was the 17th indigenous inspector general of police and hails from Gwaram Local Government Area of Jigawa State. He holds a degree in History and Law and has attended several management and security courses within and outside Nigeria. He is also an alumnus of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos.
IGP Abba was known and respected for his vast experience in criminal investigation, intelligence-led policing and crime fighting operations which he put to bear immediately he assumed office as the nation’s police boss in August last year.
Until his appointment as the acting IGP yesterday, Mr. Arase was the head of Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department. He holds bachelors and masters degrees in Law, Political science and Strategic Studies. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.
The sack of the nation’s police boss seemed to have caught men and officers at the Force Headquarters unawares as they all wore thoughtful look on the sudden development. When Newswatch Times visited the Louis Edet House (Police Headquarters), Abuja, yesterday, both junior and senior police officers were seen going about their duties quietly tactically trying to avoid any discussion with newsmen. The Force image maker, CP Emmanuel Ojukwu, was said to be attending a meeting, but when he was contacted on phone and asked to comment on the removal of IGP Abba, he said” “I don’t have any comment on that.”
SOURCE: News Track.