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Controversy trail withdrawal of Police officers from EFCC

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Indications have emerged that the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Baba and the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Commissions (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, may be on war path following the withdrawal of police officers attached to the commission.

The Police boss made the request in a letter with reference number CB:/3380/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL. 3 /547 and titled: Withdrawal Of Senior Police Officers From The Rank Of CSP And Above From EFCC.

The letter, which was addressed to the EFCC Chairman and dated April 15, 2021, was signed by the the Principle Staff Officer to the IGP, acting Commissioner of Police Idowu Owohunwa.

It read in part, “I write to extend the warmest regards of the IGP and to inform the Chairman that the IGP has directed the withdrawal of all senior police officers from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and above attached to your Agency.

“This decision is informed by the current operational requirement of the Force. You are accordingly requested to kindly direct the immediate release of the concerned officers who are to collectively report to the undersigned on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at 1000hrs for further instructions.

“I am to also request that you avail the Office comprehensive nominal roll of all police personnel attached to the EFCC to include their date of transfer and designation in the Agency for purpose of updating our records.”

The withdrawal of the officers barely three weeks after his appointment as the acting IGP by President Muhammadu Buhari has raised questions of the motive behind the move.

A source at the EFCC told our correspondent that there may be more to the current operational requirement cited by the Police boss for the withdrawal of the officers.

According to the source, “The Police has been a critical part of the operations of the EFCC from inception though we have our own trained cadets, one of who for the first time was appointed to lead the anti-graft body.

The source who didn’t want to be named said, “It is open secret that the appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as against the tradition of appointing police officers did not go down well with some people in the Force, therefore the withdrawal of these senior officers at a time the new EFCC boss is yet to get a stronghold on the the Agency leaves a lot to be desired.

“Why will the IGP choose to withdraw officers attached to a key agency like EFCC when political appointees, private individuals including people of questionable means and even their family members are moving about with routine of policemen?

“If you ask me the timing is wrong and the motive is questionable especially given the security challenges the country is facing bearing in mind that there is a nexus between financial crimes and violent crimes to the extent that large caches of sophisticated arms and ammunitions find their way into the armoury and hands of non-state actors terrorising Nigerians.”

Similarly, another senior officer of the EFCC disclosed that the withdrawal of the officers by the IGP at this time was more or less a declaration of war on the Agency and its new boss.

“For the IGP to withdraw these officers at this time is a sign that someone or some people somewhere are setting up the EFCC boss for failure. The EFCC and the Police have always worked well together right from the inception of the commission. So, what has changed?

“It beats my imagination why the IGP will withdraw its personnel that have been an integral part of the successes recorded by the EFCC. Is it because this time the head is not one of their own? Is he forgetting that we can achieve more when we work together in harmony? There should be no rivalry because Nigeria and Nigerians are the ultimate winners when we succeed. 

“Moreover, that memo gives the impression or tries to give the impression that there is a disconnect between the two agencies. A situation where the IGP is asking for comprehensive nominal roll of all police officers attached to the EFCC, their date of transfer and designation gives the impression that someone or some people are not and have not been doing their jobs.

“This is information the police should have except they are saying some people were posted to the commission illegally because that is the only explanation for the Force not having up to date data on their personnel, not only in EFCC but every other Agency. One can’t help but wonder if more officers won’t be withdrawn after the audit of its personnel working with the Anti-graft body.”

However, when contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), CP Frank Mba, dismissed speculations on feud between the agencies. Mba, who confirmed the letter withdrawing the officers, said: “The request is not predicated on any malice whatsoever. The request is purely essential due to operational exigencies of the Force currently.

“It is part of largely deliberate effort by the Force leadership to mop up police personnel from various units, departments, agencies and parastatal where policemen are.
“We have increasing challenges, emerging scenario in the South-east and we need to put our best foot forward. We are not withdrawing all police personnel. If we were withdrawing all our personnel in the EFCC may be you can then begin to say there is a problem.

“We are just withdrawing senior officers there from the rank of CSP and above. These are officers that we need at tactical command levels. Like I said, we need to put our best foot forward.”

It was reported that as part of reforms in the Force IGP Baba, last week, had ordered the disbandment of IGP monitoring unit’s satellite offices, Blueprint reported.

The EFCC Spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for  reaction at the time of going to press, as he did not respond to SMS and WhatsApp messages sent by our correspondent.

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