The disquiet in the Nigerian Police force over the recent skewed promotions in the top hierarchy of the troubled force has refused to go away. Why?
By OHIA ISRAEL
It would be recalled that upon assumption of office of the Acting IG, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, the Police Service Commission headed by Parry Osayande, promoted seven officers namely: Suleiman Fakai, Atiku Kafur, Emmanuel Udeoji, Haruna John, (he died in what some family members called a suspicious helicopter crash while taking off in Jos), Peter Gana, Marvel Akpoyibo, and Abdurahman Akano.
The ripples caused by this situation, has raised dust but that of the duo of Fakai and Udeoji never raised any reactions. Until their promotions, Fakai was however the most senior, while Udeoji was the most senior CP from the South East. However, checks by this paper show that Udeoji himself is junior to Umuahia-born Ephraim Amakulor, an AIG said to be presently in charge of Zone 8 Lokoja. Sources said that the picking of Udeoji may have been as a result of Amakulor’s expected retirement on May 17 this year.
Accordingly, the criteria used for the exercise was based on representations from each of the six-geo-political zones, order of seniority, good record of service and also without any pending disciplinary matter, sources revealed.
However, the heart of the matter is that most of the agitations are based on issue of seniority. For instance, the late John Haruna, who emerged from the North East, was frowned at as to why he was chosen ahead of four other serving AIGs from his zone; the same zone as Abubakar Mohammed, Ibrahim Ahmed, Saidu Daya and Bukar Maina. This was even though his promotion over the duo of Mohammed and Ahmed was seen as normal since the duo are due to retire last February, while the duo of AIGs Daya and Maina however has up to February and June, 2013 respectively to remain in service. Our source said late Haruna was 18th on the list of seniority order until he was promoted. He was also scheduled to retire from the service June 5 next year before death came calling.
While the crisis looks mild in some zones, the area which is the melting pot where it has become more boisterous and vociferous is the South- South Zone, as that area has the largest guttural of the raging storm. The protest in that zone shows that the appointment of Marvel Akpoyibo, a Commissioner of Police who presently is in Kogi State, ahead of other officers who are his seniors vis-à-vis the most missing CP from that region, Edgar Nanakumor, did not only missed the position but also was not appointed an AIG, is a subject of discord and rancor. According to records Nanakumor is indeed the most senior CP in the Service.
However, upon the protest, these senior police officers dragged the PSC to the presidency and also the National Assembly, as their grievances were made through a letter of protest dated February 24, 2012 where they alleged acts of corruption and procedural irregularities in the conduct of the recent promotion exercise to the ranks of AIG and DIG announced recently by the Commission. In their separate letters the officers who are within the ranks of Superintendent and AIG alleged that the promotions were indeed strange, ridiculous and suspicious, saying the moving of the five junior officers who are CPs to the rank of DIGs above their superiors has already created a division in the police force.
The said letter was addressed to President Goodluck Jonathan and copied to President of the Senate, David Mark and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal as well as the Senate and House Committees on Public Petition and Police Affairs respectively.
In their separate petitions titled: “Fraudulent and Dishonest Promotion in the Nigeria Police”, the petition, a copy of which was sent to the National Security Adviser [NSA], General Owoye Azazi [rtd], reads in part: “The Federal Government of Nigeria in its bid to reposition the police, appointed Parry Osayande DIG [rtd], as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission with the responsibility of bringing a radical change in line with Mr. President’s transformation agenda. Rather, he has complicated and created more problems by his activities in the PSC, especially in relation to the recent promotions.
“Seven officers were promoted to the position of DIG; out of these, only two by all standards, are qualified to be so appointed based on seniority, experience and merit. These are Suleiman Fakai and Atiku Kafur, who were thus qualified. While the others by any standard and practice were not qualified to be promoted AIG, talk less of DIG. For Instance, Marvel Akpoyibo who was No. 38 in the order of seniority among the 90 Commissioners of police in the Federation was elevated to the rank of DIG far and above some of his seniors who were promoted AIG, and others who were not promoted at all.
“The promotion of CP Abdulrahman Akano, who is ranked 51st in the order of seniority of commissioners, was promoted above AIG Chris Ola, who is a sitting AIG. Also, CP John Haruna was promoted above AIG Bukar Maina, just as CP Emmanuel Udeoji was promoted above AIG Johnson Uzu-Egbunam who is the most senior police officer from the Southeast.
In the case of the AIGs promoted recently, a very junior Commissioner of police who is ranked 87, and by no means, not the most senior officer from the South-South zone, was promoted up and above so many senior and qualified officers based on favoritism.
“These promotions are strange, ridiculous and suspicious, as they are not the most senior officers from their respective geo-political zones. The apparent reason for their promotions lies in the fact of corruption, favoritism, as well as bias, and we are surprised that the PSC and the Acting IGP could endorse such promotions, which has brought a sour taste in the mouths of Nigeria police officers and the generality of Nigerians. It is now obvious that the PSC under the leadership of Parry Osayande has no regard for the transformation agenda of Mr. President, and clearly, has lost its bearing in handling the affairs of the Nigeria police”.
However, sequel to their protest, the retired AIGs were said to have returned to work and occupied the offices they left. Their actions, according to a source, were like a hijack of their offices at the behest of the Presidency. Sources said that immediately they came back, they all headed to the offices where they left the service and also includes those who served at the zonal divisions were also seen dressed in their official uniforms.
The action, sources said, took the Police Headquarters by storm as the story which was making round the Police Headquarters that day was that since they had challenged their removal maybe they got orders from the high offices for their coming in anticipation of when the matter would be resolved. In the high-drama that occurred that day just like Pseudo Nigerian movie the officers ordered the new occupants of their former offices to check out instantaneously, and it was a smooth cruise for them as they simply got in there as if they were never removed.
This situation forced the serving new AIGs to accept the option of leaving and planning to get back to work where they were before their elevation, and this also dug up the dilemma of what becomes of them and the positions they left. It was either filled by the newly-appointed state commissioners or those in charge of units and formations.
Commenting on this latest development in the police, a retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, told DESERT HERALD that the recent promotions might have been informed by the performance of the elevated officers. He said the commission was in the best position to explain why it promoted many junior officers above their seniors. According to Tsav, the promotions in the police may have been effected based on performance and not seniority.
It is as a result of this silent internal crisis and the untimely demise of one of the beneficiaries of the controversial promotion through a helicopter crash, DIG John Haruna, that his family is suspecting foul play. A source at Liuos Edit House confided in this reporter that the double promotion to Haruna and his posting to the sensitive head of the Operations Unit of the force have angered many former superior officers. According to a report by the National Daily newspaper investigation into the cause of the helicopter crash that killed DIG Haruna John and three officers in Jos, Plateau State has commenced. The paper said the team of investigators are not ruling out suspected foul play as the police helicopter crashed few minutes after takeoff. The fact that some family members of the late DIG have demanded for investigation, according to some newspaper reports, clearly shows that they are suspecting that the helicopter crash was not natural.
Although police authorities have said that the helicopter is in good condition, the crisis in the Nigeria Police as a result of the promotion exercise recommended by Abubakar and endorsed by the PSC which sources revealed that the petitioners have secured the sympathy of powerful forces in the presidency may continue to polarise and undermine whatever effort the new acting IG is adopting in repositioning the force. Credible source at the force headquarters, who pleaded not to be named, told this paper that as a result of the crisis and backing of the petitioners allegedly by the presidency, MD Abubakar penultimate week had refused to go to the office in anger and may be as a protest. The source confided that he (MD Abubakar) had to be persuaded by President Jonathan and some northerners to return to work.
While DESERT HERALD could not confirm the authenticity of this information before going to press, this paper can confirm that the source is credible and that the dust generated as a result of the recent promotion in the force is still undermining the commitment of the acting IGP.