Edwin Clark kicks as President Buhari reappoints sacked IGP

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Edwin Clark
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Chief Edwin Clark, a former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South leader, has slammed the re-appointment of sacked Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, as Chairman of the Police Trust Fund.

The leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, strongly condemned the development, saying Abba’s reappointment appeared to some of them as continuous compensation or reward for a job well done for the roles he allegedly played during the 2015 general elections.

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Clark, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari and made available to Journalists in Abuja, urged Buhari to re-examine his actions as he winds up his tenure, emphasising that Nigerians cannot forget in a hurry, Suleiman Abba’s disloyal action as IGP, when he went to the airport to receive Muhammadu Buhari, without the knowledge or authorization of his principal, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who was the President at the time,

The leader of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has also advised President Buhari to obey court rulings, including that of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, leader Nnamdi Kanu, by releasing him.

 

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The elder statesman also asked what President Buhari would be remembered for, and what legacy he wanted to leave after his years as a civilian president of compensating people with appointments, usually the juiciest ones, for assisting and carrying out wrongdoing, such as the re-appointment of Abba?

“Federal character principle is a doctrine introduced by the Nigerian government to ensure equitable representation and to prevent the dominance of persons from a few states, religion, or particular ethnic group in the governance of the country and the sphere of the public sector,” Clark explained.

“Laws are enacted in any heterogeneous society to ensure that all groups and facets have a sense of belonging.” Nigeria is no exception, so leaders and framers of the law enacted rules for our coexistence as a people. For example, Section 14 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution state that the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state founded on democratic and social justice principles. The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies, as well as the conduct of its affairs, shall be carried out in such a way as to reflect Nigeria’s federal character and the need to promote national unity, as well as to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that no persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups shall predominate in that government or any of its agencies.

“”The Federal Character Principle is a doctrine introduced by the Nigerian government to ensure equitable representation and to prevent the dominance of persons from a few states, religion, or ethnic group in the governance of the country and the public sector.”

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“It is important to note that the responsibility for ensuring that this aspect of the law is implemented and or executed falls squarely on the shoulders of the President of the country, who is currently Muhammadu Buhari.” It is, however, quite disturbing that the same man who swore to uphold the laws of the land is flagrantly violating them. Suleiman Abba was recently re-appointed as Chairman, Board of Trustees, Nigeria Police Trust Fund, effective May 5, 2023.

“Suleiman Abba is from Jigawa State, in the North Western geopolitical zone; Mr. Abdullahi Bala is from Sokoto State, also in the North Western geopolitical zone.” The previous Secretary, who resigned to run for governor of Sokoto State in northern Nigeria, is also from Sokoto State. One would expect that if the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Police Fund is from the north, the Secretary should be from the south, and vice versa, as this is one way to maintain Nigeria’s unity.

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“Mr Suleiman Abba was previously the Inspector General of Police (IGP). As a graduate, he joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1984 and rose to the rank of Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police in February 2012. Many senior officers and approximately seven (7) Deputy Inspector Generals (DIGs), including Mike Zuokumor, who hails from the same Bayelsa State as President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, were forced out when they retired. Because they were from the same State/Region, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan refused to appoint Mike Zuokumor, who was qualified on merit.

“With such a huge concession made by Mr President Jonathan in appointing Suleiman Abba as Inspector General of Police, many of us believed Abba would serve the country, the Nigeria Police Force, and President Jonathan’s administration with all diligence and truthfulness as Inspector General of Police, especially given how close President Jonathan was with the traditional ruler who recommended Suleiman Abba for the appointment.” As a result, we were both surprised and disappointed.

“The Nigeria Police Force is a federal institution, and the Nigeria Police Trust Fund, which was established to provide for the welfare and conditions of police officers, is a federal government agency.” However, in appointing people to the Board, President Muhammadu Buhari disregarded the provisions of the country’s Constitution enshrined in the Federal Character. President Buhari is prone to doing this. This is extremely unfortunate. It is one of the reasons why the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum, which I lead, has taken the Federal Government to court for constitutional violations, and among the declarations we are seeking from the court are:

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“To some of us, Suleiman Abba’s reappointment as Chairman of the Police Trust Fund appears to be a continuous compensation or reward for a job well done for the roles he played during the 2015 general elections.”

“One cannot forget Suleiman Abba’s disloyal action as IGP, when he went to the airport to receive Muhammadu Buhari without the knowledge or authorization of his principal, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, who was the President at the time, and which resulted in his dismissal from the Police Force.”

“Today, President Muhammadu Buhari is eulogising and praising Dr. Goodluck Jonathan’s legacy, particularly his peaceful conduct during the 2015 general elections, when he conceded defeat.”

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“President Muhammadu Buhari should ask himself what legacy he wishes to leave after his years as civilian president.” Is it of compensating people with appointments, usually the better ones, for assisting and carrying out wrongdoing, as he recently did for Suleiman Abba and his cohorts, who were alleged to have conspired and worked to remove Dr Jonathan from office at any cost? Is it a violation of the country’s constitution? Is it the result of nepotism? Is it the prospect of leaving the country more divided and devastated than he found it?

“There is still time to make amends within the few days that Mr. President has begun appointing people to offices if it can be distributed evenly to all sections of the country, as stipulated in the Federal Character laws, and not in a manner that compensates wrongdoing.”

“I also advise President Buhari to follow court orders, including the one issued against Nnamdi Kanu.” And, as he nears the end of his term, to reconsider his actions.”

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