The effective monitoring of the general election commencing on February 25, 2023, is being threatened by the imminent retirement of over 300 senior police officers.
The president and national assembly elections are slated for February 25, while governorship and state assembly elections will hold on March 11, 2023. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is doing everything possible to deliver free and fair elections.
However, provision of adequate security that will engender effective monitory of the polls is being threatened by manpower shortage that may hit the Police Force due to imminent mass retirement of officers including the Inspector General of Police (IG), Usman Alkali Baba.
It was gathered that apart from the IG whose statutorily retirement day is for March, 15, about 16 Assistant Inspectors-General (AIGs); 12 Commissioners of Police (CPs) and Deputy Commissioners of Police DCPs, and 30 Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACPs) are slated for retirement between February 1 and March 31, 2023.
Also to retire within that period are more than 35 Chief Superintended of Police (CSPs); 47 Superintended of Police (SPs), 55 Deputy Superintended of Police (DSPs) and over 70 Assistant Superintended of Police (ASPs).
Already, two DIGs are expected to statutory retire at the end of January, 2023. Their letters of retirement were said to have been forwarded to Police Service Commission (PSC) for processing.
Sources hinted that about 15 of the ACPs are Mobile Squadron Commanders and Area Commanders, while most of the CSPs and SPs are Divisional Police Officers (DPOs). It was gathered that ironically, the names of some of the officers had been submitted to the Force Headquarters Abuja for strategic postings for the elections. Some top retired security personnel, who spoke to THISDAY, said the imminent retirement of the officers could have a negative impact of elections and therefore advised President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the retirement of these officers till after the elections.
However, a source at the Police Service Commission (PSC) assured Nigerians that the police have enough manpower to perform their statutory role during and after the elections.
“We just injected 10,000 recruits into the force, who will participate in the election. Another 10,000 are expected in the next batch of recruitment. We have received applications. So for now we have enough manpower for the election,” the source said.
Speaking on the extension of tenure for the personnel, the source stated: “In the case of IG, only President Buhari has the power to extend the IG’s tenure. His tenure ends March 1 and at that point, only the presidential election would have been conducted but if he is to go, there other capable successors.”
Also, the Police Force spokesman, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, said there was no cause for alarm.
“We always have manpower. Police is not the only security agency involved in this election. There are other security agencies and we are working in synergy. Every volatile area will be liberated before the election.
“People are creating fears to heat up the polity and we need to be wary of fake news peddlers,” he told THISDAY yesterday.
“Those who are to go will go. Once it is time for you to go, the rule is that you must go. For instance a DIG is going today (yesterday),” he Adejobi added.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Police Force has debunked the rumoured planned strike of members of the Force.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Olumuyiwa Adejobi, who was apparently reacting to a publication by an online news platform on a purported planned mega protest in Lagos, by policemen over alleged six-month unpaid arrears, said policemen protesting or embarking on strike was not possible.
There were reports that only grade levels 03,04,05,06 and few 07 police officers were paid arrears while those in grade levels 08, 09, 10 and 11 were not paid.
“Senior inspectors from Lagos police command are planning to protest at the Lagos command Headquarters on Monday over the unpaid six months arrears.
“Police officers who did not collect their six months arrears are creating WhatsApp groups to gather numbers for the protest on Monday in Lagos,” the report alleged.
But debunking the report in a series of tweets on Saturday, Force PRO Adejobi said, “Most times, I laugh when I read what some bloggers and news platforms write or publish on policing in Nigeria.
“This news, at times, look sponsored because they lack professional touches and merit. They are garnished with and full of lies, unfounded issues, assumptions, presumptions, etc.”
Continuing, Adejobi said, “Police Force is not a labour union or group where its personnel meet and deliberate on protest or strike. It’s not possible. We know and are aware of some ‘don’ts’ in the NPF being a regimental organisation. There is a particular news platform whose name sounds like or resembles a desert that will always want to stir up the NPF and our nation with its fake news, unfounded points, unguided arguments, and fallacies. We are disciplined in the police and uphold our ethics and sanctify of traditions and doctrines.
“We appreciate the improvements in our welfare and conditions of service under this present administration. it’s unprecedented, and I am sure more goodies will come for police personnel as soon as possible.”
Goddy Egene and Kingsley Nweze in Abuja