For the second week running, confusion has had the better of the Force Headquarters of the police in Abuja. While it has not got over the helicopter crash that killed DIG Haruna John and three other senior officers last week in Jos, Plateau State, yesterday was a different turn in the event of things.
The day that started normally later ended in confusion as the last batch of Assistant Inspectors-General of Police (AIGs) came back to the offices they left. The return that looked like a hijack of the offices, was said to have been at the behest of the Presidency. As the ex-AIGs came back, they all headed to the offices from where they left the service. Even those of them that served at the zonal divisions were also there in their official uniform.
The drama took the police headquarters unaware as the story making the rounds was that since the AIGs had challenged their ouster, they possibly got orders from powerful offices for their return pending when the matter would be resolved.
During the drama, those who got to their former offices and met some other AIGs already posted there, ordered the new occupants to leave immediately.But for those whose offices were still unoccupied, it was a smooth sail as they simply got back into the saddle as if they were never out.
The situation, according to a reliable source, forced the serving or new AIGs to take the option of leaving and planning to get back to where they were promoted while serving as Commissioners of Police.But another dilemma is what becomes of them as the positions they left had been filled either by newly-appointed state commissioners or those in charge of units and formations.
In the first week this month, four AIGs were among the 40 senior officers between the ranks of Deputy Commissioners of Police and Commissioners of Police forcefully retired.
Seventeen officers who had served the 35 years statutory requirement were also retired formally on March 1. But regarding the other officers, the Police Service Commission (PSC), led by retired DIG Parry Osayande, had asked them in writing to tender their voluntary retirement letters. Many of them, who felt there was no reason for such coercion by the PSC, resisted it.
However, some of them gave conditions which included promotion to the next rank while they accepted to apply for voluntary exit.
One of the contentions was what they called illegal and inappropriate promotions of some junior officers to DIG position and never deserved, by order of hierarchy, to get such quantum leap in promotion.
While the brouhaha festered, the aggrieved officers had petitioned President Goodluck Jonathan, the leadership of the National Assembly and the National Security Adviser (NSA), calling for a reversal of the order for their retirement. That was the last ditch as the PSC had insisted that the affected officers write a committal so as to shift the liability of an illegal retirement out of its doorsteps.
They had feared that if the PSC served the officers letters ordering their retirement, they might have valid legal claims against the PSC. As coercion did the job of making them commit in writing to leave the service, they noted in their petition that they were forced out.The officers complained in their protest that Osayande, rather than bringing reforms in the police as expected, is causing confusion.
They challenged their forced eviction and asked the President, NASS and NSA to order a reversal.But what could not be immediately ascertained by Press time was whether President Jonathan or any of the other officers ordered them back to their posts pending a final decision.
The returnee AIGs, according to Daily Sun sources, were not in the mood to talk to anybody or give details of what informed their stepping back to office by storm.
Also the Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), DCP Sola Amore, refused to pick several calls to him. Even a text message sent to him at about 6.32pm yesterday intimating him of the intention of the caller and the need to reply, never yielded any positive dividend. Till Press time, Amore had not got back to the caller or replied the text.
However, another very senior officer and one who works closely with the Acting Inspector-general of Police, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, at the headquarters, who picked his call, declined any comments. He could neither say yes or no, but just directed Daily Sun to Amore.