The announcement of his name as the 21st Inspector General of Police in Nigeria was like a thunderbolt. All eyes were focused on Assistant Inspectors General of Police, AIG’s, and Commissioners of police who were strategically placed in the scheme of selection process going by precedence.
In fact, all the serving Deputy Inspectors General of Police, DIG’s, were already packing their bags and baggage preparatory to the announcement of a new Inspector General of Police by President Muhammed Buhari.
Though the earlier heightened tension during the end of the era of Muhammed Adamu was virtually doused with the extension of his tenure by three months by the President last February, the DIG’s did not nurture any hope of continuity talk more of any of them ascending the enviable seat of number one police boss in Nigeria.
Announcement of a new IGP
In his case, DIG Usman Alkali Baba, whose sterling records while serving in different locations and departments in the Nigeria Police force were glaring, there were very high expectations and silent prayers by those acquainted with his impeccable records that a miracle may happen. And, really, it happened with the announcement of his name as the acting Inspector-General of Police by the Minister of Police Affairs, Maigari Dingyadi on April 6th, 2021.
Barely an hour after he was decorated in an acting capacity at the State House, Abuja, by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, the ebullient new man on the saddle of the Nigeria police force proceeded to the Police Finance House temporarily accommodating the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, NPTF, with a view to actualizing the Trust Fund’s vision and mission for the Nigeria Police Force. It was a spectacular unscheduled visit. The new Acting IGP’s close aides confided that their convoy was already primed to move towards Police headquarters were a strong contingent of gaily dressed officers and men were eagerly awaiting to welcome their new boss when the table turned.
According to sources, he directed that ‘we should proceed to Police Finance House for an unscheduled visit to Nigeria police Trust Fund office,’ one of the aides said. ‘ In fact, those we met on the ground there least expected us until they saw the acting IGP in flesh and blood. They poured encomiums on him and loudly commented that the visit was a glaring sign of good things that will happen to the force during his tenure. Their joy knew no bounds and they embraced us all and prayed for steadfastness in this commendable thrust of action from the new boss.’
Acting IGP Alakali went further to accentuate their expectations with his bold and encouraging statement of facts that: “The Police Trust Fund is my first port of call after being decorated as the new acting IGP to let you and members of the Nigeria Police know that the intervention of NPTF is highly needed and expected at this crucial time. The mission of the Trust Fund targeted at having a well-trained, well-equipped and highly-motivated Police Force will be supported by my administration with unwavering cooperation.”
Maiden visit to Louis Edet House
Not done, the Acting IGP stormed the Louis Edet Headquarters of the force with unrestrained equanimity where he was warmly ushered in by a colourfully dressed contingent of men on parade later described as one of the best to embrace a new IGP in recent years.
His unquenchable capacity and rapacious eagerness to undertake the onerous task ahead manifested recognizably when he met with top police officers from all the formations in the country, a few days later. Both his former colleagues who served with him as DIG’s, Assistant Inspectors General of Police, AIG’s, and Commissioners of Police marvelled openly as he marshalled out his programme of action. Recognizably, his well-articulated vision and mission were pointers to a new beginning and this was widely accepted and pronounced by his colleagues at the highest cadre including all the foot soldiers in all formations in the country as they freely brainwashed and mapped out workable strategies that will move the force forward and tackle the prevailing insecurity in the country decisively.
Highlights of the new policing vision include; deploying cutting-edge policing technology and integrating intelligence-led policing practices to core policing functions, with a view to strengthening police capacity to stabilize the internal security order and restore public confidence in the Force. The new policing vision equally seeks to, among other things, give full effect to the concept of community policing and deliver quality police service that will be guided by the principles of public accountability and conformity to the rule of law. It will also embrace the social content of policing in which police officers see themselves as compassionate servants and helpers of the citizens.
The IGP stated that the meeting with the Strategic Commanders was convened to discuss strategies to roll back the unacceptable security tide occasioned by the increasing threat to internal security by terror elements, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbery syndicates and arms traffickers. He reassured citizens that the Force under his leadership shall evolve a new policing culture where police officers will uphold the rights of the people and work within professional standards and expressed confidence that in the shortest possible time, the new policing vision and operational strategies would return our beloved nation to the path of public safety, security and peace.
Hammer on Monitoring Unit
Meanwhile, as part of the Force reorganization to ensure that its units operate only in the context of their original mandates and remain human rights compliant, humane and people-driven, the IGP has ordered the immediate reforms of the IGP Monitoring Unit and the disbandment of all its satellite offices across the country. He subsequently directed that Inspector General of Police Monitoring Unit offices in Lagos and Port-Harcourt be immediately shut based on issues related to harassment and complaints against the operatives. He noted that the Unit would be re-organized for better operation and his order came barely 24 hours after Chairman of Police Service Commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, advised him on the urgent need to checkmate police investigative units across the country to stem the atrocities committed in the line of duty.
Before now, the unit had been involved in issues bordering on intimidation, harassment and abuse of innocent Nigerians using the name of the Inspector-General of Police. They were permeating all the nooks and crannies of the country wielding enormous powers claiming to be executing directives from the highest authority in the force. Many innocent Nigerians fell prey to their excesses and were heavily extorted by operatives of the unit. Fortunately, the directive by the Acting IGP has gone a long way to assuage the suffering of many who helplessly denied justice while they held sway and lasted.
Historic visit to PSC
Usman Baba Alkali’s determination to forge ahead and break all seemingly unbreakable barriers that had bedevilled the Nigeria Police Force in the past manifested with a visit to the Police Service Commission where a retired IGP, Alhaji Musiliu Smith is holding forth. Before he assumed office, there was no love lost between the police management team led by his predecessor, Adamu Muhammed and the Police Service Commission. Their bickering and open confrontation came to a stage that affected many hardworking officers due for promotion and new entrants into the force. At a stage, other interested parties and the Presidency seemed helpless over the degenerating and ugly situation which was affecting the force.
However, Acting IGP Alkali broke the jinx by proceeding to the Police Service Commission to give respect to whom it is due. By that singular gesture, he amply demonstrated his eagerness to carry everybody along in the pursuit of the betterment of the force and all it stands for. That singular gesture, according to a security expert and Human Rights Activist in Lagos, Dandy Eze is a clear demonstration and amplification of what the new police boss has set out to achieve. ”In fact, he has shown that he is not just equal to the task ahead but will deliver in his set goals and mission statements if given the encouragement,” he stated.
Withdrawal of police officers from EFCC
Furthermore, the new police boss ordered the withdrawal of senior police officers attached to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which has been in contention for long but none of his predecessors had the courage to address it squarely. Hinging his directive on the operational requirements of the force, Alkali in a letter addressed to the EFCC Chairman and signed by his Principal Staff Officer, Idowu Omohunwa directed that the affected officers should report to the Force headquarters without delay. There is no doubt that his decision had to do with a shortage of officers needed to tackle the violent security challenges across the country.
Urgent government intervention
Perhaps, as the new police boss continues to effect sweeping changes in the force, like a Trojan horse, it will be pertinent to state that to whom much is expected, much should be given. The horrible dilapidation in the force, shocking lack of equipment, low morale of officers and men, constant cases of human rights abuses etc should be constant reminders to the government that for the new police helmsman to succeed, he must be adequately equipped, financially and otherwise to tackle the insecurity issues now ravaging the country. Though Usman Baba Alkali miraculously emerged as the new IGP, he is not a miracle worker that will transform the force with bare hands. A situation where police stations lack even tear gas to ward off threats is a very sad commentary and speak volumes about the abject neglect and abandonment by the government.