From Tafa to Egbetokun usual rhetoric: IGPs who ordered withdrawal of police from VIPs

OVER the past decade,  order for the withdrawal of police escorts from private individuals organisations and VIPS has become a trend for successive Inspector General of Police (IGP), however, these orders have proven abortive and or unimplemented.


The Acting IGP Olukayode Egbetokun, ordered that personnel of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) would be withdrawn from VIPs escort and guard duties.

Speaking on Monday, June 26, in Abuja Egbetokun said, “Specifically, we shall effect the withdrawal of PMF personnel from VIP escort and guard duties.”

The Police Chief noted that it was imperative that the force realign its priorities to address the escalating security challenges faced by the nation.

“By relieving the PMF of VIP escort and guard duties, we can redirect their focus and efforts toward addressing critical security concerns that affect our communities at large,” he stated. 

The move by Egbetokun generated reactions, some of which state that such pronouncement is the ‘norm‘  or ‘rite of passage’ for new IGPS. Egbetokun was appointed as IGP in June – barely two weeks before making the pronouncement. 

Findings by The ICIR show that the order to withdraw police from private individuals and organisations has been a ritual for successive police chiefs over the years.

Tafa Balogun, 2003

In 2003, IGP Mustafa Adebayo Balogun ordered the withdrawal of police orderlies from judicial officers and politicians across the country.

Tafa Balogun, as he is popularly known, noted that ordered security details attached to some categories of dignitaries, including judges, be withdrawn from them.

Reacting to the withdrawal, the then-governor of Lagos,  Bola Tinubu, expressed the need to re-evaluate the move.

On October 13, 2003,  the Police authorities made a U-turn. Balogun ordered the return of police orderlies to judges in the country.

The next year,  2004, he ordered the immediate withdrawal of police orderlies from private individuals like chiefs Chris Uba, Emeka Offor and others.

Infographic of past Inspectors General of Police who ordered withdrawal of police escorts from private individuals
Infographic of past Inspectors General of Police who ordered withdrawal of police escorts from private individuals

Ogbonnaya Onovo, 2009

During his maiden press conference in August, 2009 as IGP, Ogbonnaya Onovo ordered all police personnel attached as private orderlies to private individuals to return to their bases.

The ICIR reported that Onovo’s audacious order included policemen attached to former heads of state, ministers, legislators and state governors.

Onovo explained that such security privileges were not approved by the Federal Executive Council(FEC).

He noted that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had in earlier released the list of political and public office holders entitled to police aides.

According to Onovo, “the 22 political and public offices holders covered in the list are: “President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Justice of Nigeria, State Governors, Deputy Governors, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), Ministers of the Government of the Federation, President of the court of Appeal and Justices of the Supreme Court.

Others include “Judges of the Court of Appeal, Chief Judge and Grand Khadi of a state, President, Customary Court of Appeal, Chairman of a Local Government Area Council, Vice Chairman of a Local Government Area Council, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC)”

According to Onovo, offices of former Presidents, Vice -Presidents, Governors, deputy governors, wives of serving Presidents, vice presidents, governors, local government chairmen and their deputies as well as the chairman of EFCC, were not entitled to police personnel as private orderlies.

Giving a seven-day ultimatum to those having police aides illegally to send them back to their various commands, he noted that the function of police had been ridiculed by the roles bestowed upon them by those who make them aides.

“We had, under the past administration, made efforts to withdraw policemen from those who were not eligible. In our analysis, we found out that over 100,000 policemen were attached to individuals either as escorts, security or whatever.

“Some of these were legal because they were with those legible to have them, but most of them were illegal that is why you saw policemen carrying handbags at the airport, policemen escorting nonentities, policemen opening doors and windows in private rooms and so on and so forth thus undermining the integrity and respect that this uniform offers,” he declared.

Hafiz Ringim, 2010

Hafiz Ringim, who succeeded Onovo as IGP, issued a directive cautioning officers who guard unauthorised individuals to return to their bases as refusal would lead to arrest, delisting and prosecution 

According to the police spokesman at the time, Emmanuel Ojukwu,  Ringim constituted a special monitoring unit to ensure compliance to his directives.

Mohammed Abubakar, 2012

With an ambitious objective to deliver Nigeria the best policing service, Mohammed Abubakar rolled out a number of directives to restore the professionalism, integrity and lost glory of the police profession.

Among them was the cancellation and withdrawal of all approved police guards for private individuals and corporate bodies.

He noted that the withdrawal would ensure service delivery to the people while reiterating his plan to build a strong and vibrant police force to give the country “the best policing service”.

Solomon Arase,  2016

Speaking on March 12, 2016 to a  cross-sectional audience in Niger, the IGP Solomon Arase lamented that Nigeria was “grossly under-policed”, adding that there were just about 8,000 police personnel in Niger state.

He noted that he had directed that policemen on postings as orderlies to individuals, including politicians, be withdrawn immediately and redeployed to other more sensitive posts in order to provide the needed security across the country.

 “I have given a directive that policemen on postings as orderlies to individuals, including politicians, be withdrawn immediately and redeployed to other more sensitive posts in order to provide the needed security across the country,” Arase said.

Ibrahim Idris, 2018

In March 2018, the IGP Ibrahim Idris ordered the immediate withdrawal of police officers attached to VIPs, political and public officers across the country.

Idris stated that a memo would be sent to the President, Muhammadu Buhari, for approval.

The ICIR reported that the IG instructed the commissioners to return to their states and withdraw the police officers from private individuals and companies.

He said,  “In view of the current security challenges in the country, it has become expedient for the Nigeria Police Force to streamline the deployment of its personnel attached to political and public office holders, aimed at enhancing effective and efficient policing in the country.

“To this effect, a memo will be forwarded to the President for approval which will serve as a template for deployment to VIPs and public office holders in the country.“Accordingly, directive for withdrawal of all police officers deployed to VIPs, political and public office holders, with immediate effect, is hereby given.”

The Police Chief further frowned at the illegal use of sirens and police plate numbers.

Idris also directed holders of all police plate numbers to return them to the Force Transport Officer (FTO) at the headquarters, and they are expected to apply for re-validation.

Mohammed Adamu, 2020

Following the disbanding of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) due to protest against the squad for high handedness and extrajudicial killings, the IGP Mohammed Adamu ordered the withdrawal of all police officers attached to VIPs across the country, with immediate effect.




    He exempted those attached to Government Houses, the Senate President and the Speaker House of Representatives, from the order.

    According to the statement issued to all state commissioners dated October 21, 2020, “any commander who violates this order will bear the consequences.”

    The signal, which was signed by the AIPOL, Protect, Force Headquarters, Abuja, reads in part: “Any protect personnel found escorting or guarding any VIP with or without a firearm is deemed to be deployed by the commander, and the commander will be sanctioned.

    Olukayode Egbetokun, 2023

    The newly appointed IGP, Olukayode Egbetokun also toed the line. He ordered that personnel of the Police Mobile Force (PMF) would be withdrawn from VIPs escort and guard duties.

    Stories with punches holding the powerful accountable. His determination to speak out against corruption and influence the conversation in Nigeria, the surrounding region and the continent inspires him.

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