Available records say Idris Kpotun, who would rise to the exalted position of Police Inspector General, enlisted into the Nigerian Police Force on 3 January, 1984. Those sources say Mr. Kpotun was born on 15 January, 1959, meaning he turns 60 tomorrow. I’m using this medium for the transmission of birthday wishes to him.
By virtue of his position, Mr. Kpotun, a public officer not a political appointee, is subject to the Federal Public Service Rules 2009. Rule 020810 (ii) expressly states that “the compulsory retirement age for all grades in the Service shall be 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier” and “no officer shall be allowed to remain in service after attaining the retirement age of 60 years or 35 years of pensionable service whichever is earlier.”
In other words, Mr. Kpotun reaches one milestone tomorrow, and passed the other 11 days ago. As per Police Service Commission guidelines, he ought to have proceeded on pre-retirement leave three months ago.
Since the 3rd of January, there have been calls for President Muhammadu Buhari not to renew the Kpotun’s term, and the President has been sued by an opposition party, Action People’s Party over purported moves to extend his tenure. The anxiety is understandable as this won’t be the first extension done by Buhari.
Despite admitting that they’d performed poorly, Buhari approved the extension of the tenures of the military service chiefs on 18 December, 2018. The police are not subject to the Armed Forces Act anyway.
Yet Sokoto ending up having an improbably higher number of votes than Kano. All of that was ensured by the police, and since then, Inspectors-General have played a dubious role in Nigerian elections. Concerns over the possible extension of the current PIG’s tenure stem from this unfortunate tradition.
The conduct of security agencies has been flagged as a risk for the credibility of next month’s elections. The police have been identified as an unstable variable. If President Buhari extends Kpotun’s tenure, it is likely to be perceived as an indication that the ruling APC will use the police to secure illicit advantages in the polls. It will also be seized upon by political actors as a pretext for discrediting the elections, leading to more political uncertainty.
The real lesson from this drama, is the urgency of a certain aspect of the Police Reform Bill currently in front of the Senate, sponsored by Bala N’Allah (APC, Kebbi). This aspect seeks to remove the appointment of the PIG from the President, and make it the domain of the Senate. That clause, if passed, will go a long way to depoliticising the position.