Nigeria’s information and culture minister Lai Mohammed said there will be no cause for alarm if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to extend the tenure of current inspector-general of police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris.
Buhari appointed Idris on 21 March 2016. He replaced Solomon Arase, who retired from the Nigeria Police Force on 21 June 2016 after reaching the statutory age of 60 years.
“In the first instance, it is the prerogative of Mr President to extend or not to extend the tenure of the Inspector-General of Police or any service chief. That prerogative cannot be taken from Mr President on the altar of paranoia by some people,” Mohammed said.
According to guidelines in the Nigeria Police Service Commission, an IGP is entitled to a pre-retirement leave before clocking age 60.
However, Idris, who will be age 60 on January 14 is yet to proceed on leave. This has spurred speculations that Buhari is working to extend the Police Chief’s tenure despite reaching retirement age.
The minister claimed that former Presidents extended the tenures of former IGs.
“Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his time, extended the tenure of Mr Sunday Ehindero as IGP. Was there no opposition party then? Also, in his time, President Umaru Yar’Ardua extended the tenure of Mr Mike Okiro as IGP, heavens didn’t fall.”
Although, Buhari had said he was going to take a decision about the IGP ‘soon’ but main opposition party People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and others have accused the president of using the police force to rig the 2019 general election.
The PDP and other opposition parties had planned to stage a protest to demand Idris’s effective retirement, but Mohammed said no action would be enough to influence whatever decision Buhari would make.
He also said the planned protest by the opposition would not be enough to stop the Buhari from exercising his power as he “is at liberty to extend his tenure.”
The minister said, “I have read that some opposition parties are planning a series of nationwide protests on the issue of IG’s tenure. That’s purely within their right in a democracy. And I wish them the best of luck.”
Mohammed stated that PDP and other opposition parties had fallen out of favour in the sight of Nigerian and were only holding onto the IGP’s tenure to attract the sympathy of interest.
“When you are drowning, you grab any floating object you can find. You even grab at straws. That’s what the PDP is doing with the issue of the IGP’s tenure,” Mohammed said.