The rise of Abubakar and fall of Ringim
Sunday, January 29,  2012

That President Goodluck Jonathan has relieved Hafiz Ringim of his seat as the nation’s 15th Inspector General of Police is no more news. Ringim took over from Ogbonna Onovo on September 8, 2010 and was due to retire from the force after completing his 35 years mandatory period of service on March 1, 2012.

But now in his place sits a former Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) once in charge of Zone 12, Bauchi, Alhaji Mohammed Dikko Abubakar. So, for Ringim, it is the end of an era while for Abubakar, it is a new dawn.

Not a few Nigerians believe that Ringim’s sack was long overdue but true to his nature, President Jonathan gave him a soft landing and made him go on terminal leave. Under Ringim, Nigeria literally caved in following the failure of the police to carry out its constitutional role of protecting lives and property of the citizenry from the menace of the Boko Haram sect.

But what seemed like the climax of Ringim’s incompetence was the escape from custody of Kabiru Umar popularly known as Kabiru Sokoto, suspected to have masterminded Christmas Day bomb attacks on churches.
The fleeing suspect was arrested at the Borno Governor’s Lodge at the high brow area of Asokoro by a special unit of the police equipped with tracking systems. He was handed over to the former who later left Sokoto in the custody of Zakari Biu, his course mate, who has a questionable history in the force having been retired by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Biu was notorious for cases of bomb blasts during the regime of late General Sani Abacha.

But now that Ringim has been shown the way out, the question is: will his successor, Abubakar’s tenure be a departure from the past. And will he be able to make the police regain its lost glory or further worsen the image? It is too early to conclude as the days to come will prove the stuff Abubakar is made of. There were no fewer than six officers ahead of him, but President Jonathan by-passed all. That means that Jonathan likely has a lot of confidence in him because many believe that Nigeria cannot afford to make a mistake in the area of security now.
So, for the 54-year old Zamfara State officer, his major headache would be to demystify the Boko Haram sect which has become the greatest threat to the existence of Nigeria as a corporate entity. Since 2009, Boko Haram has literally seized power in the Northeast.

A report released a day before Abubakar was unveiled as the new police chief said the insurgent group has killed at least 935 people since 2009, including more than 250 in the first weeks of this year. Bauchi, his last duty post, is one of the vulnerable states for Boko Haram insurgency and critics say he achieved little or nothing to curb them. But beyond that, as he prepares to assume office as the acting Inspector General of Police, Abubakar has another major threat to his integrity. Records show that his role during the 2001 Jos, Plateau State sectarian strife in which several lives were lost remains an albatross in his career spanning about 33 years.

As the Plateau State Commissioner of Police during the crisis,Abubakar was indicted by the Justice Niki Tobi panel and recommended for immediate retirement from the police. Justice Tobi, a retired Supreme Court Judge also recommended that Abubakar should be sacked if he declines to resign honourably, following his alleged complicity in the killing of Christians in Plateau during the religious crisis. The White Paper released by the Plateau State Government said: “Religious fanatics should not be posted to head state police commands.

The commission recommends that for his ignoble role during the September 2001 crisis which resulted in the loss of lives, the former Commissioner of Police, Plateau State Command, Alhaji M.D. Abubakar, be advised to retire from the Nigeria Police Force and in the event of his refusal to do so, he should be dismissed from the service.”
However, despite questions on his integrity, many are optimistic that the new police boss may have some magic wand considering his wealth of experience. On assumption of office, Abubakar gave Nigerians hope that the job of policing would not be beyond him.

At the handover ceremony, he said: “I am indeed delighted today that the Almighty God, in His wisdom, has shown us this day. I will not want to tell you that I have a speech for now because I am taking over. I want to be fully briefed about the challenges and the difficulties and the facts facing the Nigeria Police today. I am not a newcomer to it. I cannot run away from the fact that there are a lot of challenges but I do know that we have challenges that are of high impact. I want to assure all Nigerians that this administration will be different from any other administration because every officer and men of the Nigeria Police will belong to the same family.”

Stating his priorities, he added, “We shall focus on areas of interest, which we know the Police are lacking – training and retraining programme, welfare scheme and the challenges of fighting crime in this country. We shall go to every nooks and crannies of this country and do what is expected of us in respect of fighting crime and criminality. This administration will not tolerate any, and I mean any, act of indiscipline, act of corruption and I intend to live by good example”.

He added, “officers and men of the Police will hold positions and postings based on their competence and ability to perform. All officers will be assessed based on their performance and not based on who you are by name.”
Stressing his determination to fight crime in the country, Abubakar said: “I did say we shall fight crime in all its ramifications, crime and criminality. Whatever name you give it, whether it is Boko Haram or armed robbery. We shall fight crime in all its ramifications. I cannot do this job without my officers and men. There is no commander without troops. Therefore, we shall do what we shall do and you will be there to see what we shall do but we need prayers because whatever you want to do, you need to pray.

Important positions Abubakar has held include Assistant Commissioner of Police, State CID, Sokoto Police Command; Assistant Commissioner of Police, Federal Operations, Force Head Quarters, Lagos, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Airport Police Command, Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Administration), Lagos State Police Command.

He served as a substantive Commissioner of Police in states such as Plateau, Abia, Kwara, Kano and Lagos.
He was at various times AIG in charge of Zones 2, 5 6 and 12. So, in terms of experience, he has what it takes to lead the police but Nigerians are waiting to see how far he can go.

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