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Ribadu: Senators disagree over Ribadu’s demotion

Posted by By Oluwole Josiah and Ademola Oni on 2008/08/15 | Views: 1742 |

Ribadu: Senators disagree over Ribadu’s demotion

Members of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs have disagreed with one another on the demotion of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and 139 other policemen by the Police Service Commission.

Members of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs have disagreed with one another on the demotion of the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and 139 other policemen by the Police Service Commission.

They exchanged hot words shortly after the PSC Chairman, Mr. Parry Osayande, appeared before them in Abuja on Thursday to clarify issues bordering on the demotion that generated diverse views from prominent Nigerians and groups.

But just before Osayande told the Senate that a former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero, promoted Ribadu and the 139 other police officers illegally, the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, described the demotion of the ex-EFCC boss as “ political persecution.”

The PSC chairman argued that the demotion was aimed at sanitising the Nigeria Police Force and to curb the decay currently going on within it.

He pointed out that Ribadu’s promotion from the rank of a Deputy Commissioner of Police to an Assistant Ispector-General of Police placed him above more than 2,000 other officers of his cadre and seniors.

Osayande, who also explained that the sack of 10,000 policemen by Ehindero had been nullified by the PSC, explained that the promotion of an officer doing his regular duties could not be done under special promotion.

He added that the affected policemen had been told to report to work for screening.

After Osayande’s presentation, the Chairman of the committee, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya, said he was going to go ”personal” and sought explanations on why Ribadu was demoted.

He also wanted to know whether or not it was right for the former EFCC chairman to be withdrawn from the Nigerian Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies , Kuru near Jos, Plateau State.

But a member of the committee, Senator Nuhu Aliyu, said Ogunniya erred when he said he was going ”personal,” arguing that the commission did what was right.

He said, “Osayande and myself were Deputy Inspectors-General of Police; what we wanted were facts and they have been presented to us.

“We should not be personal about this. I think we should not be personal. I will not be part of this. We all know the procedure.”

But Aliyu‘s statement spurred a reaction from Senator Ayogu Eze, another member of the committee, who argued that the questions asked by Ogunniya and himself on Ribadu, were not personal.

“There is nothing personal about the questions asked, it was in the interest of the public to ask those questions; if you don‘t want to be part of it, you can walk out, you can walk out if you don‘t want to be part of it,” Eze said.

Other senators rose to calm the nerves of their colleagues, even though they took turns afterwards to restate their positions on the matter.

Senator Tanko Ayuba, while making his comments, commended the commission for taking the bold step of correcting what he called the “anomalies” in the promotion of officers in the NPF.

He said it would have portended doom for the police if the correction was not effected, given that those whose juniors had become their seniors would have remained disenchanted.

Earlier, the Permanent Secretary at the commission, Mr. Bawa Buwai, had said that Ehindero unilaterally promoted Ribadu and the 139 other police officers after the PSC rejected a recommendation from him .

Buwai claimed that Ehindero promoted the officers on the premise that the PSC board was not in place contrary to the laws setting up the commission and the Police Act.

According to him, when he challenged the former IG over the action, he (Ehindero) claimed that he had a signal from former President Olusegun Obasanjo granting the approval for the promotion of some of the officers.

Buwai said, ”On December 18, 2006 after the tenure of the commission expired, the former IG sent a signal conveying the ex-President‘s approval of the promotion of the officers earlier rejected by the commission.

“The request by the commission to get a copy of the memo on the ex- President‘s approval was not submitted . When the tenure of the former IG was ending, he also announced the promotion of other officers through signal.

“Both the 1999 Constitution and the Police Service Commission Establishment Act did not recognise anybody to act on behalf of the commission and the Police Council, which a sitting President is the chairman.

”While overseeing the PSC before the appointment of the present commission, I had to write to the former IG to once again draw his attention to the illegal actions taken without recourse to the commission.”

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, who was represented by Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, said the promotion of officers without due process was breeding bad blood within the force.

In Abeokuta, Ogun State, Soyinka told journalists on Thursday that Ribadu had “not committed any offence” that warranted his demotion.

He explained that he was not interested in the legal implications of the case, an angle he described as interesting.

The literary icon described Ribadu’s demotion as the latest assault on the sensibilities of Nigerians, adding that his traducers were having a good laugh while the nation bemoaned the fate of the demoted police officer.

He said, “I have read some of the arguments by some lawyers, especially the one by Femi Falana. I’m, however, interested in the moral implication; the issue of natural justice. It is wrong, it is immoral and unnatural to let an individual enjoy some entitlements and to remove those entitlements, which cannot be justified under any law.

“For instance, we have seen cases where some police officers were promoted for their acts of bravery in foiling robbery incidents, some foiling some crimes; and these people were promoted. Are we going to wake up one day and insist that these people be demoted because of some flippant excuses? So, what Ribadu has done was that he had subdued some ‘pen robbers.’

“Ribadu has not committed any offence. He has not done anything to contradict his achievements. It is a persecution of an innocent person.”

Soyinka explained that he had had cause to disagree with the strategies adopted by the EFCC in performing its duties, and that he had confronted Ribadu openly to make those observations.

He added that the demotion of the former EFCC chairman was a continuation of a “known trend.”

The playwright said, “Imagine the attempted sanitisation of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, when Maj.-Gen. Mohammadu Buhari (rtd), Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, and Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar started telling the whole nation that Abacha never looted the nation’s treasury.

“It is part of the trend and our system, when two judges were caught pants down having improper communications with the counsel of a litigant in a case, and the tribunal still went ahead to deliver the judgment?”

Soyinka added that Ribadu’s demotion, inspite of his achievements in striking fear into the hearts of pen robbers, had given a signal that the nation might never be delivered from treasury looters.

“By going ahead to reduce Ribadu’s achievement to nullity is to entrench the belief that you can just go ahead and loot and loot (the nation’s treasury). Though the trend has always been there, I never knew it could be this brazen and strange,” he stated .

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Comments (23)

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