Mixed reactions trail appointment of  Usman Baba as IGP

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We have critical security situation in South-East, South-South – I-G

By Maureen Chigbo

MIXED reactions have trailed the appointment of Usman Baba, deputy inspector general of police as the acting inspector general of police, IGP, in Nigeria. Some prominent Nigerians have criticized the appointment mainly because of the breach of the Federal Character principle enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while others have praised it.

Mike Ozekhome, SAN and constitutional lawyer, in a statement entitled: “Buhari’s Northernisation of the Nigeria Police Force” made available to Realnews, on Wednesday, April 7, cited sections 7(6) and 18(8) of the Nigeria Police Act, 2020, in addition to the clear provisions of sections 214, 215 and 216 and paragraph 7 to the 3rd Schedule of the 1999 Constitution to denounce the appointment.

According to Ozekhome, “By the aforesaid paragraph 7 to the 3rd Schedule, the president cannot single-handedly appoint an IGP, as he has again unconstitutionally and illegally done. He can only do so in conjunction with the Nigeria Police Council comprising Mr. President as chairman, all the 36 state Governors, the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, and the IGP.

“Such an appointment as just happened before the new Acting IGP is capricious, arbitrary, whimsical, unconscionable, illegal, unlawful, wrongful, and unconstitutional. It eulogizes strong men rather than strong institutions. Today, Buhari has again appointed DIG Usman Alkali Baba, a Northern Muslim, as acting inspector general of police, to replace Adamu Mohammad, another Northern Muslim.”

He noted: “With Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi, another Northern Muslim as the Minister of Police Affairs, the circle of policing in Nigeria is complete. Of course, Buhari controls the Police by virtue of sections 214, 215, and 216 of the 1999 Constitution. It is the same situation with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and NNPC, the entire security architecture of Nigeria and other key sectors, and commanding heights of the economy. The illogical and puerile argument is always that the president only appoints people he can trust and that such persons are qualified in any event. That argument is insulting and insensitive to the intelligence, sensibilities, and plurality of Nigeria.”

Ozekhome, who is also a human rights activist, queried: “Can’t President Muhammadu Buhari for once, just for once, in his opaque appointments look beyond his religion and immediate and forsake sectionalism, cronyism, prebendalism, tribalism, favoritism, and act as a true statesman? Is he truly saying he cannot trust any of the other over 15 million Nigerians who voted for him, or that he cannot find any of them that is qualified to be made an IGP? I thought he gleefully told Nigerians on 29th May 2015, while taking his first oath of office, that he was for “everybody and for nobody”? So, Buhari had actually deceived Nigerians and is desecrating his solemn oath of office? So, he just wanted power for the sake of it, after three serial failures in 2003, 2007, and 2011, leading to him even weeping publicly, swearing never to contest again?  Is that why he has failed abysmally in deliverables in ALL his self-appointed campaign PROMISES of a buoyant economy, anti-corruption war, and a secured Nigeria?

“Is Buhari telling Nigerians that under his governance, Nigerians are indeed living in the Federal Republic of the North,or Northern Republic of Nigeria, or the Republic of Northern Nigeria, or the Northern Nigeria Republic, Republic of Northern Nigeria and the Other Vassal States? I can’t decode Buhari’s defiant refusal to respect the Federal Character principle enshrined in section 14(3) of the 1999 Constitution. Or, can you?”

Apart from Ozekhome, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, on Tuesday, condemned the appointment of the new acting inspector-general of police as unjust, stating that the injustice in the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is responsible for the growing agitations and insecurity in the South-East.
Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze national publicity secretary, observed that Buhari appointed Baba, a northerner, as IGP despite pleas by Ohanaeze that the president considers a South-Easterner as the next IGP. Realnews reports that Baba is taking over from Mohammed Adamu, whose tenure Buhari extended for three months on February 4. Adamu also took over from  Idris Kpotun, former IGP, also a Northern Muslim.

According to Ohanaeze, Baba, born in 1963, an alumnus of Bayero University, Kano, and the University of Maiduguri, who joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1988, was picked as the IGP despite sidelining the people of the South-East in the recent appointment of service chiefs.

Ogbonnia said: “It is unjust and unfair to sideline the South-East in the security architecture of the country. Injustice promotes insecurity; it promotes all forms of crisis and problems. With injustice, there is no peace anywhere. What is happening in the South-East today in form of agitations is a result of injustice. So, we the elders are put in a great dilemma because the younger generation is attacking us and we have been telling them to hold on, believing that the President would have a change of mind.

“We thought that the President would be concerned about the level of injustice, agitations, and crises we have in the South-East and would try to ameliorate these things but unfortunately, he is not thinking towards that direction. It is most unfortunate and Ohanaeze will come up with a stronger statement.”

Monday Ubani, former vice president of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA could not fathom  “when the president consulted with the police Council in accordance with the constitution before the appointment. If he did not comply with the provisions of the Constitution there is a breach.

“Again the president is committed to appointing key people in his government without regards to the federal character as enshrined in the same constitution he swore to uphold. Again that is unfortunate. The president must play a key role in uniting Nigeria and Nigerians at this critical time of our national history. His divisive role in governance especially in his method of appointment is destroying rather than rebuild Nigeria. President Buhari has failed the test of being the father of the nation. Sad that I was part of the people that brought him to power,” Ubani said.

However, the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kaduna State chapter, has hailed the appointment of Baba as the new acting inspector-general of police.

Reverend John Joseph Hayab, chairman, CAN, Kaduna State chapter, rejoiced with Baba and enjoined all Nigerians irrespective of any difference to support the new IGP to take the country off the present security challenges.

In a statement, Hayab explained that the appointment of Baba at the helms of affairs of police should be seen by Nigerians as a welcome development in an attempt to free Nigeria from the insecurity it is known with for some time.

“The acting Inspector-General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, has worked in different capacities in Kaduna state. His contributions of maintaining peace in the state cannot easily be forgotten, hence his sincerity, honesty, and wealth of experience to ensure a peaceful society is still very fresh in our minds,” he said, adding that the appointment came in good time.

Noting that Baba is “a sincere man that has a listening ear to any constructive advice, hence, Nigerians should rest assured that their sincere observations on the way forward towards a peaceful society will be highly looked into by the new IGP, he advised Nigerians to support him to succeed.

– Apr. 07, 2021 @ 17:59 GMT

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