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Lucky Irabor and Usman Baba: Redefining police/military relations

Lucky Irabor and Usman Baba: Redefining police/military relations
September 07
08:54 2022


There is a popular saying that ‘’When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers most’’. This ancient adage of the Kikuyu people, a tribal group in Kenya, Africa, is as true today as when the words were first spoken, thousands of years ago. It simply means, “The weak get hurt in conflicts between the powerful”.

The same thing happens when two powerful security agencies, constitutionally empowered to protect lives, property and defend the country against external aggression are at daggers drawn, it is the civilians that bears the brunt.

The inter-agency rivalry that exists between the Military and the Police is as old as the country’s democracy. Unfortunately, the Military and the Police that are meant to unite and fight our common enemies for peace, stability and economic prosperity of the country have turned their guns against each other, in a senseless battle for supremacy.


The Military and the Police are the two leading security agencies in Nigeria. Both security apparatuses derive their powers and authority from section 214 and 217 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (2011) with clearly defined roles.

Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution states that, “There shall be a Police Force for Nigeria, which shall be known as the Nigeria Police Force, and subject to the provisions of this section, no other Police Force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof”.

The Police Act, however, regulates the Force. Section 4 of the Police Act provides that, ‘’The Police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders, the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged…’’


Meanwhile, Chapter 6. Part 3. Section 217 (1) states that, “There shall be an armed forces for the Federation which shall consist of an army, a navy, an Air Force and such other branches of the armed forces of the Federation as may be established by an Act of the National Assembly”.

Section 217 (2) of the Constitution further states that, “The Federation shall, subject to an Act of the National Assembly made in that behalf, equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective for the purpose of;
(a) Defending Nigeria from external aggression;
(b) Maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;
(c) Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and lastly, performance of such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.

Both Military and Police perform joint operations to fight insecurity. In fact, the rampaging bandits in Northwest and part of North Central have made such joint Police – Military operations a necessity.

Determined to put paid to the incessant banditry attacks in Niger, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara and Sokoto States, President Muhammadu Buhari earlier in June 2020, approved a joint Military and Police operation to comb the forest and bring the unrepentant killer bandits who keep terrorising the locals to book.


These joint-operations are not devoid of bitterness and rancour amongst the security personnel. Some leading to deaths of Police and Military personnel and life-threatening injuries. Some of these fights occur as a result of simple things as sharing of rice.

And nothing beats my imagination as civilians whom the security operatives are meant to protect, expressing joy on social media, instead of sadness whenever security operatives fight dirty.

They are many cases of Police and Military clashes in Nigeria. In 2017, some Naval personnel burned down a section of the Akim Police Barracks in the Cross River State capital. Two Police Officers identified as Sergeant Odudu and Corporal Emmanuel Mbang were killed in that unfortunate incident, while a third Policeman identified simply as Ibiam, was shot in the left eye.

According to an eyewitness account, the unfortunate incident occurred from an issue at a traffic light spot at the stadium, off IBB Way, where a policeman was trying to control traffic. It led to misunderstanding between the Policeman and a naval rating resulting in a fisticuff.


The Naval officer was shot in the shoulder, which drew the ire of the naval authorities in the state. The rest is history.
In that same year, there was a clash between the Army and Police in Northeastern State of Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State.

It is as a result of these unwarranted Police-Military clashes that some analysts have faulted Military in Civilian space. But both the Police and Military are supposed to be like two peas in a pod, working together for the good of the country.


If only the security personnel put their ego aside and put the country first, the energy they used in fighting each other would be channeled towards fighting bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers, insurgents and other criminals threatening the peace and stability of the country.

The security operatives will never achieve their mandates of protecting lives, properties and defend the territorial integrity of the country if they continue to work at cross-purposes (with each other).


CDS Lucky Irabor and IGP Usman Alkali Baba understand the security implications if the Military and Police work at cross-purposes very well, long before they were appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. That’s why they have been working round the clock to revive the dying spirit of esprit de corps amongst Police and Military personnel. Esprit de corps is the feeling of pride and mutual loyalty shared by the members of a group.

General Lucky Irabor has shown in words and deeds, since he assumed office, his love for the Police and the Military readiness to work in cahoots with the Police to fight crimes, criminality and defend the territorial integrity of the country.


This, he demonstrated with his working visit to Force Headquarters, where he examined some Police facilities. He did not only stop there, he donated Patrol vehicles to Delta State Police Command to aid the Police in Delta fight crimes to a standstill. You may say he did that because he is from Delta State, but has any CDS ever done that? I may not be a student of history, but I am old enough to know that no serving Chief of Defense Staff had extend such kind gesture to the Police in their State, let alone other States. Therefore, it is safe to say, the CDS loves the Police and he understand the importance of Police in a democratic dispensation.

IGP Usman Alkali Baba on the other hand, has demonstrated his readiness to work with other sister security agencies to fight crimes and criminality in the country. He has organized several conferences with the Military, Police and Paramilitary in attendance, where issues regarding the peace and stability of the country were discussed.

To say, there are no incidences of Police – Military clashes under General Lucky Irabor and IGP Usman Alkali Baba, is to deny the obvious. Of course, they would be, but it has been reduced to the barest minimum. At least, It’s been long we hear cases of Military personnel invading Police stations like the infamous known and unknown gunmen in South East to kill police personnel and destroy police properties over little misunderstanding.

I want to state categorically without the risk of being accused of condescension that, the bad blood between Military and Police personnel is palpable among the rank and files. The senior officers like the elites in Nigeria are friends. But, their foot-soldiers don’t see eye-to-eye. Hence, there is need for orientation and re-orientation. Security operatives should be taught from training grounds the importance of esprit de corps.

They should be taught to put the country first. They should be taught that, it does not matter whether you are in the Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, etc., the job is security. The nation must be secured first before you secure your ego.

They should be taught that, the inter-agency rivalries will make terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers, known and unknown gunmen have a field day. And lastly, they should be taught that, Nigeria is the only country they have and it should be protected with the last drop of their blood.

Needless to say, the country is blessed to have General Lucky Irabor and IGP Usman Alkali Baba at this critical moment in the history of our dear country, Nigeria. They are not square pegs in round holes.

Ibn Isah writes from Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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