By CHIKA OTUCCHIKERE, Kunle Olasanmi
The inspector-general of police, Suleiman Abba, was fired yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan for not interpreting the script to rig the March 28 and April 11 elections in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The script, according to the PDP high command, was to use police authorities to coerce the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to rig the vote and return the president in the March 28 election.
LEADERSHIP learnt that the president was miffed by Abba’s inability to deliver on the election days.
Suspicions that police and the military were going to be used to distort and disrupt the electoral process were rife in the build-up to the general elections.
In a vain effort to veil the reason for Abba’s forced retirement, the government has been weaving stories around his performance and loyalty.
A terse statement by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, did not disclose why the IGP was sacked; it just said the president had relieved IGP Abba of his appointment and duties “with immediate effect.”
The statement added that Jonathan had also appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase as acting inspector-general of police, also with immediate effect.
LEADERSHIP investigation, however, revealed that the president’s action was a backlash for police conduct during the recent presidential and governorship elections.
Sources within security circles and the presidency confided in our reporters that IGP Suleiman “committed a litany of sins that have ultimately cost him his exalted position.”
According to the sources, there was a security blueprint designed to aid President Jonathan coast home to victory in the presidential election and also assist the PDP win most of the states during the governorship election.
Abba was said to have been part of the blueprint at the initial stage but was said to have backed out of the deal at the very last minute, by ensuring that police personnel deployed for election duties showed a high degree of impartiality and fair play for all the political parties.
The source revealed that both the president and his henchmen concluded that “Abba reneged and that made the environment conducive for free and fair polls that returned the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) to attain resounding victory over the PDP in most states, especially in the north.”
His colleagues alleged that Abba abandoned the blueprint and allowed the DIGs to call the shots during the elections.
He was also accused of not being firm on “the directive to capture the two key states of Rivers and Lagos” where the contest was particularly important to both the PDP and the APC.
The IGP’s redeployments of top police commanders on the eve of the presidential election and the follow-up redeployments on the eve of the governorship elections also drew the ire of the presidency which felt that the actions were actually meant to give the opposition APC a level playing ground in the elections.
Another source disclosed that the president was particularly piqued by the huge sum of money made available to the police for election purposes, which was actually meant to compel the officers to give the PDP unalloyed loyalty and the opportunity to swing the votes during the elections.
A security source told LEADERSHIP that the presidency planted informers around the IGP who monitored him and many of them readily sold the IGP out in a bid to curry favour from the presidency.
They mentioned IGP Abba’s alleged presence at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport during the return of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari from his country home in Daura, Katsina State, and also his presence during INEC’s issuance of the certificate of return to Buhari as indicative of the IGP’s loyalty to the president-elect.
Abba’s tenure is the shortest in the nation’s history: he served as substantive IGP for five months. He was confirmed IGP on November 4, 2014, although he was appointed in acting capacity on August 1, 2014, to succeed Mohammed Abubakar who had retired after 35 years of service.
With his removal yesterday, Abba will proceed on a forced retirement four years ahead of his due retirement time. He enlisted in the Nigerian Police as a cadet inspector on December 31, 1984, and would have been due for retirement on March 22, 2019.
His replacement, Mr Solomon Arase, is the first man to serve three inspectors-general as principal staff officer (PSO). His last posting was as the deputy inspector-general (DIG) and head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
Arase holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law, political science and strategic studies. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.
Abba Suleiman hails from Gwaram Local Government Area of Jigawa State and holds degrees in history and law. He also attended several management and security courses within and outside Nigeria and is an alumnus of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.
He was on Monday lauded by the United States ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, for the glowing conduct of police officers during the last elections.
Abba had an eventful career in the police. He was an assistant inspector general (AIG) in charge of Zone 7 command. He was also a former aide-de-camp (ADC) to the wife of the late former military head of state, Maryam Abacha.
Muslim group demands explanation for Abba’s sack
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) yesterday demanded an explanation for the removal of IGP Suleiman Abba by President Goodluck Jonathan.
MURIC’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, in a statement, described the sacking of the police chief as curious, especially when Abba was not due for retirement until March 22, 2019.
According to MURIC, sacking such a high profile service chief without any justifiable cause raises more questions than answers.
The group also remarked that it was quite unusual for an outgoing regime to embark on this type of exercise – sacking service chiefs and appointing new ones.
“The implication is that the hands of the incoming administration are being tied and its manoeuvres restrained. The incoming regime is being saddled with unnecessary and avoidable human liabilities.
“It is our contention that President Jonathan owes Nigerians lots of explanations about the raison d’etre for this eleventh-hour replacement of a service chief,” it added.
While noting that tongues had already started wagging, MURIC asked whether Jonathan was really getting ready to hand over and why he was in such a hurry to appoint a new IG for the incoming regime.
“Why should an IG be sacked shortly after the ruling party lost a general election? Is it that he did not ‘play ball’ during the elections. Did he refuse to obey illegal commands?” it wondered.
MURIC, therefore, urged the president to reveal the offence or offences committed by Abba to the Nigerian people who are the tax payers.
It also warned the incoming administration to be watchful and guard the people’s mandate jealously.
Meet new IGP Solomon Arase
Born on June 21, 1956, in Oredo Local Government Area, in Edo State, Solomon Arase was bred in Sapele Delta State. He joined the police in 1981 as cadet assistant superintendent of police (ASP).
Prior to the latest appointment as acting IGP, Arase Ehigator Solomon was the deputy inspector-general of police in charge of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (FCIID), the main intelligence gathering arm of the Nigerian Police that provides intelligence on crime and national security.
Arase enlisted into the Nigerian Police after graduating from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980, with a degree in political science. He also has a bachelor of law degree and master of law from the University of Benin and University of Lagos respectively.
The new IGP attended the Nigerian Law School and was called to Bar in 2,000. He also has in his kitty a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan.
Arase has vast experience as a crime fighter, having served in various commands and formations of the Nigerian Police, including being the commissioner of police for Akwa Ibom State.
He was also one time assistant inspector-general of police in charge of the Force Criminal Investigation Bureau (FCIB).
Arase, due for retirement on June 21, 2016, served at the United Nations Mission in Namibia and is a fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.
Lawyers seek Senate confirmation for IGP
Some prominent lawyers in the country yesterday called for the appointment of the inspector-general of police to be approved by the Senate.
At present, IGP appointment is subject to president’s nomination who will thereafter present his name to Nigeria Police Council comprising the president, vice-president and the 36 state governors for necessary confirmation.
However, some others think otherwise, saying there is no need for Senate approval.
Lagos lawyer, Mr Festus Keyamo, about two years ago approached a Federal High Court to challenge the appointment of service chiefs without Senate confirmation.
The court granted his request and nullified their appointment by the President without Senate confirmation.
Keyamo told LEADERSHIP last night in a telephone interview that the Senate should also be involved in the appointment of the IGP.
He said the IGPs have always treated members of the National Assembly with disdain because they have no say in his appointment.
“Look at the way his men treated the lawmakers the last time the lawmakers had problems among themselves over the leadership of the House; he treated them with disdain. He was able to do that because he was not subjected to them during the process of appointment,” Kenyamo stated.
On his part, Malam Yusuf Ali, SAN, disagreed with the position of Keyamo. He, however, remarked that most political appointees were not always loyal to the country but to those who appointed them.
“The IGP does not need Senate confirmation since the minister who oversees his office is usually confirmed by the Senate. We saw it coming for the IGP. They are not always loyal to the country but to those who appointed them.”
Apparently speaking of the outgoing police boss, Suleiman Abba, who was sacked yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan, Malam Ali said: “If you remember, he took some irrational decisions by removing the security details of the Speaker and gave orders to voters to go home after voting. I think he has served his usefulness to those who appointed him.”
For Ali, until the law is amended, the president remains the appointing authority for the IGP.
Another senior member of the country’s judiciary, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), said since President Goodluck Jonathan was the appointing authority, he also had the power to fire.
For Malami, until the law is amended, the President remains the appointing authority for the IGP.
Another senior member of the country’s judiciary, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) said since President Goodluck Jonathan is the appointing authority, he also has the power to fire.
Culled from LEADERSHIP