In the past year, I have written at least three opinion pieces about Ibrahim Idris, the inspector general of police (IGP), and the Nigerian Police Force. If I did not know myself better, I may suspect that I have a personal issue with the former Kano commissioner of police. But I have no personal issues with him, I just have every issue with how the police force, under his leadership treats Nigeria and Nigerians.
In December 2017, I joined many Nigerians on and off social media to remind the president of the vows he made to Nigerians pre-2015 to reform the country’s police. At the time, I said President Muhammadu Buhari’s inability to listen to the cries of Nigerians on the need for a police reform, may be his biggest albatross come 2019. I said the opposition must feel like: “Thank God President Buhari doesn’t listen”.
In February, after many other undoings by the inspector general with respect to Benue crisis, and his police force’s atrocities under the guise of its special anti-robbery squad (SARS), I said IGP Ibrahim Idris may be one of the major reasons why Buhari could loseat the polls come 2019.
In March, President Buhari visited Benue and confirmed that the IGP had disobeyed the president’s orders for nearly a full month. What did the president do to Idris, who was busing ripping a birthday cake apart when Benue was being ripped apart by killer herdsmen? Nothing serious. At this point, I had to take a cursory look into who this untouchable IGP was, and here is what I found:
According to his records, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, was the commissioner of police, who supervised the security apparatus for the controversial presidential election results from Kano in 2015, where President Muhammadu Buhari got nearly two million votes. Maybe just a coincidence. After the elections, Idris was promoted to assistant inspector general (AIG), and in a few months, he was named the acting inspector general of police to take over from Solomon Arase.
As expected, this move angered his superiors, who had been AIGs and DIGs (deputy inspector generals of police) for years, before Idris even became a commissioner. The convention took its course, about 30 AIGs and a handful of DIGs were forced to retire.
About Nine months later, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo seems to be making something right in the police force.
OSINBAJO AS THE BRAIN IN THE BOX
It is no longer a round of coincidences that every time President Muhammadu Buhari is on vacation, the nation “gets better”, Acting President Osinbajo goes from one giant leap to the other. From reforming airports in 2017 and signing major executive orders to sacking the untouchable Lawal Daura, and now to #ENDSARS.
Pre-2015, the APC had a think tank, which built up the party’s manifesto and campaign plans. One of the major players then was Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of law and pastor at the Redeemed Christian Church of God. In its final output, the think tank also recommended police reforms and the execution of plans on community policing.
According to the APC policy document or manifesto on community policing, the team promised to “set and revise when needed the boundaries of operations of the Federal, State and Local Govt. policing units through new Criminal Justice Legislation to replace the existing Criminal Code, Penal Code and Police Act”.
The party also promised to “establish a well-trained, adequately equipped and goal driven serious crime squad to combat insurgencies, kidnapping, armed robbery, ethnoreligious and communal clashes”.
So when we see what Osinbajo has called on the IGP to do with SARS, it is clear to me that this has always been his idea before he was named vice-president. And no matter how this is told, edited and re-told, we know who really cares about the welfare of the ordinary Nigerian. There is, however, one more thing needful…
ONE MORE THING IS NEEDFUL…
Samuel Ogundipe, a Premium Times Journalist, has been detained by the police, at about the same time when the acting president called for police reforms. Isn’t this an Irony that we should not allow go on for too long?
In 2015, while covering the general elections in Lagos, I met Samuel Ogundipe, who I considered a very extroverted reporter who had his way of getting by knotty issues. In no time, I figured how resourceful he was. We soon connected and helped each other in ways we could, from one polling unit to the the other, one collation centre to the central collation centre. He was always on his ipad sending results to his office as the day turned into night. Even when he was not working for a very popular news medium, he worked as hard as possible. Not long after, he moved to Abuja and later joined Premium Times.
Since joining Premium Times, Ogundipe has done many high-profile stories regarding the country’s security apparatus. His penchant for facts has also led him on many fact-checking missions, one of which was shortlisted by AFP’s Africa Check, for its Fact Check awards in 2017. In 2016, he ran a very insightful fact check on Nigeria’s secret police, and its illegal nomenclature. When journalists like Ogundipe write, you may not like what they have written, but its very difficult to dispute what they have written. Facts first.
Today, he is in police detention for reporting yet another credible story. The list of journalists who have been detained by the police has been growing since Ibrahim Idris became IGP. A country cannot be treating her journalists this way and expect meaningful development in the media and the country at large.
Dear Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, you have taken a bold step with SARS, but we cannot be reforming SARS on one hand and have journalists getting picked up and detained on the other. This singular act will have massive impact on press freedom in Nigeria and how the world perceives our freedom of the press. So now is the time to put an end to this irony and free Samuel Ogundipe.