By Rotimi Fasan
THE Police Service Commission, PSC, has invited Senator Isa Misau, Chair of the Senate Committee on the Navy, to appear before it to explain the circumstances surrounding his retirement from the Police Force. Senator Misau has countered that the PSC has no power to invite him for the purposes the body has advertised. In doing this, the senator spelled out details of what the PSC is empowered to do by law, namely, the recruitment, training and discipline of serving police officers (my emphasis). What the PSC hopes to achieve by inserting itself into the issue between Mr. Misau, Ibrahim Idris and the Nigeria Police does not look clear. But it would appear like an attempt to dilute the controversy with extraneous matters and by so doing provide a soft landing for the IGP.
By bringing itself into the matter at hand, the PSC which by the way has enough trouble of its own to keep it busy, including the scandal that trailed the recent promotion and/or posting of police officers, and its own cat-and-dog relationship with Mr. Idris, aims to turn the whole matter into one of ‘two fighting’ at the end of which it would make itself an uninvited peacemaker. All the PSC needs to achieve this disgraceful goal is for Mr. Misau to play along even when that comes with the danger of the PSC turning the table against him. Indeed it would appear that the PSC is a mere busybody in this matter. It is bent on playing a role others are better suited to take up. This is the typical Nigerian way of muddling up issues, a way through which the Nigerian ruling class covers its track and end up making a hash of a straight forward matter.
Looking at how the disagreement between Senator Misau and IGP Idris/the Nigeria Police started, it should not be difficult to know the rightful thing to do or which body is best placed to adjudicate in the matter. Clearly this is a job for the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission, ICPC,- or the law courts if everything else fails. But the ICPC has chosen to remain on the sideline, pretending it has forgotten its mandate while both Mr. Idris and the Nigeria Police appear unable to fathom the way to the law court as they apparently consider Senator’s Misau’s allegation either false, slanderous or libelous. How did we get to this point? An answer to this will not only demonstrate the bad faith in the PSC’s invitation to Senator Misau, it would also hint at the fact that either the IGP and/or the Nigeria Police has/have something to hide and therefore a case to answer.
The ongoing back-and-forth, scandalous in every dimension, all started a couple of weeks ago after Senator Isa Misau levelled allegations against the Nigeria Police as an institution and Ibrahim Idris, as a person. According to the senator, the police makes billions of naira in revenue that it fails to remit to the Federal Government. Since the Police is a public service rather than a revenue making organisation it may be interesting for Nigerians to know what the Police actually does to make so much money. The Police by the Act establishing it neither buys nor sells but you never can tell with the way things run in present day Nigeria. From Senator Misau’s account what the Police does to make itself such a rival of the Nigeria Customs and Excise comes from the privatisation, in effect prostitution, of its services.
The Nigeria Police has become a Force that is contracted to provide security for rich and highly placed Nigerians, private business people and organisations willing and able to pay for it. These are services better provided by private security agencies, many of which now exist across different parts of the country. But no, the Police hierarchy must deploy police personnel to serve as errand boys and girls, literally, to private entities. Mind you many of these individuals who enjoy these services are men and women of dubious credentials including the armed robbers, kidnappers and money launderers in our midst. And this is happening in a country where, by current estimates, there is one police officer to 300 Nigerians(?).
On the personal level, Mr. Misau alleged that the IGP collects as high as 10 to 15 million naira from police commissioners who want to be posted to ‘juicy’ commands. In clear terms, the senator is here saying that the IGP is a receiver of bribe which implies that President Muhammadu Buhari might have appointed a thief to protect a bank. These are weighty allegations that ought to be investigated. But so far silence has been the word from relevant agencies in government. Not even the Federal Government has found it fit to respond to this allegation. For them it must all appear like a fight between old friends, after all Senator Misau has said that Mr. Idris recently bought him a flight ticket. But in response to these grave allegations the Nigeria Police claims that Senator Misau, a retired police officer and son of a former Assistant Inspector General of Police, is a deserter who left his posting in very dubious circumstances.
The question to ask is at what point did the Police discover that Senator Misau deserted his duty post? Why was this an undisclosed fact until the senator made his unprecedented allegation against the IGP and the Nigeria Police? Was the IGP/Police waiting for a time like this when they could use the information at their disposal, supposing that it is true, to blackmail the senator? It is not impossible that Senator Misau indeed left the Police Force without proper authorisation but that is a matter that can be investigated after both the IGP and the Police have first proven that the allegations against them are false. This is not a matter to be swept under the carpet. The matter at hand goes to the roots of the Buhari government’s so-called anti-corruption war that Ibrahim Magu, acting Chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, now says is a losing if not a lost war.
There might be something to worry about IGP Idris Ibrahim who seems obsessed with the spoils of office and embroiled in matters of dubious colouration. He had started his term on a controversial note, accusing his predecessor, Solomon Arase, of unauthorised removal of more than 20 vehicles from the official police pool leaving him with jalopies unfit for his exalted office. His role in the recent promotion scandal looks dubious even as Mike Okiro, Chair of the PSC, recently suggested his relationship with the PSC is less than cordial. IGP Idris may need to re-examine his values.