That the cancer of corruption has permeated the entire strata of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) is common knowledge. A recent report prepared by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime listed the police as a front runner among agencies of government that are steeped in this social vice. It cannot therefore be a surprise to Nigerians that corruption lies at the centre of the altercations between the police and Senator Isa Misau who was himself a former police officer. The verbal exchanges between the two parties have been a drama of sorts.
Senator Misau fired the first salvo when he accused the IGP, Mr Ibrahim Idris, and the Police Service Commission (PSC) of promotion racketeering. He said the IGP had been collecting bribes ranging from N10 million to N15 million from senior police personnel for favourable postings. He further said the IGP had been making up to N10 billion monthly from oil companies, banks and private individuals who enjoy special police protection. The senator claimed that 10,000 police personnel were being deployed to serve oil companies and another 10,000 to give protection to banks. He went further to say that people of questionable character were being given police protection and demanded that Idris be made to account for all the payments being made to him.
The argument and position of the police on the Misau issue is simply funny. It is bereft of the thoroughness expected of a law-enforcement outfit. If the man left his job in September 2010 without complying with extant regulations, why has it taken the police seven long years to discover that he has committed the offence of desertion?On his exit from the force, Misau did not go into hiding. He went into a vocation – politics – that made him more visible than he had even been. He was mounting the soap box from place to place canvassing for votes in his bid for a seat in Nigeria’s upper legislative chamber. Why have the police waited until the man came up with allegations of corruption against the Inspector-General and the Police Service Commission before declaring him wanted? What disciplinary measures did they take against him when he was found to be frequenting ‘indian’ hemp joints?Sounding helpless and plaintive, the police have been calling on the Senate to wade into the matter and subject Misau, its Chairman on Navy, to a probe.
What looked like a coordinated stand by the force headquarters and the PSC was shattered when the Commission issued a statement affirming the genuineness of the letter which approved Misau’s retirement from the Nigeria Police. This has further deflated the laughable claims and arguments of the force headquarters on the entire issue. The initial invitation to Misau by the PSC, for the purpose of establishing the authenticity of the said letter, raised questions about the commission’s modus operandi and level of efficiency. As the body in charge of appointments, promotions and discipline, the commission must have a file on each of its officers. There must therefore be file copies of correspondences to Misau in the personnel department of the commission. The name of everyone involved in the processing and approval of Misau’s retirement should be within easy reach of the PSC.
The entire issue raises one pertinent question: How long does it take to process resignation or retirement l from the Nigeria Police? Misau took his exit from the force in September 2010 while the letter that approved his retirement has March 5, 2014 as the day on which it was written. Is the process so complicated and time-consuming? Is it rocket science?
The senator has made allegations of grievous financial misconduct against the IGP. It should not be unknown to him that he too can only go to equity with clean hands. He has not controverted the statement by the PPRO that he has committed the crime of impersonation by claiming to be a Deputy Commissioner of Police when in actual fact he was a Deputy Superintendent of Police. As a distinguished senator, he has an explanation to offer on this.
The most serious dimension of the altercations lies in the allegations of corruption against the IGP and the PSC and the challenge it has thrown to the Federal Government and the anti-corruption agencies. The allegations should be thoroughly investigated if the anti-corruption crusade is to be given credibility. Authority to enforce the law should not translateinto impunity.
Olatoye, a veterian journalist, lives in Ibadan, Oyo Sate.