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EXCLUSIVE: Intrigues as Buhari shops for new IGP to replace Idris

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Intrigues, highwire politicking and intensive lobbying are at work at the Nigerian Presidency and Police Force Headquarters (FHQ), Louis Edet House Garki, Abuja, as President Muhammadu Buhari shops for a new Inspector-General of Police, IGP, ahead of the retirement of incumbent, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris. Although Idris is due for statutory retirement on December 31, 2018, he is said to be lobbying for one-year extension, The Witness reports.

The Witness gathered that as Idris intensifies lobbying top members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to extend his tenure, the president has discussed with some of his cabinet members on a credible officer to replace the embattled police chief.

As Idris makes move to remain on the seat for another one year, The Witness learnt that several senior policemen and their political godfathers have also started lobbying to become the next Inspector General of Police.

It was gathered that between now and 2019, several police chiefs, especially of the ranks of Deputy Inspectors General of Police, Assistant Commissioners of Police and Commissioners of Police will proceed on their retirement.

A source said: “Between this month and 2019, the bulk of senior officers in the Nigerian Police will go on retirement.

 “At least by July, four DIGs will first retire.

“In fact, by 2019, only one DIG, who is presently serving, will still be in service.

“Many will retire based on clocking the 35 years in service and others will be affected by virtue of their ages.

“Those who are going to be massively affected in the clocking of age and retirement are 1984 and 1986 sets.”

Many of these policemen, between the ranks of DCP and CP, are presently also lobbying to be given their next ranks before retirement date comes.

It is further gathered that several politicians, while preparing for the forthcoming elections, are also lobbying for the IG’s position for their police friends.

With the exit of the incumbent IGP, police sources, however, disclosed to The Witness that a junior officer to the aforementioned top brass of the police force (names withheld), who is in the rank of a commissioner of police, may eventually get the top job as he is said to have more years ahead of him before retirement.

“He has up to 2020 before he is due for retirement and the Presidency is likely going to have preference for that officer, especially with the forthcoming 2019 general elections,” a source at the Force Headquarters said.

The Presidency source further said that the officers penciled down for the police top job had already undergone “secret” security screening by the appropriate agencies.

As the lobby continues, The Witness learnt that the drama is gradually assuming political, religious and tribal dimensions as some zones have vowed to ensure one of their own assumes the position.

 

IDRIS’ MANY CONTROVERSIES:

But for the intervention of a foremost traditional ruler in his home state of Niger, the Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar; and the Emir of Kano, His Royal Highness Muhammadu Sanusi II, this newspaper learnt that Idris would have been sacked by the presidency months back. THE WITNESS gathered that the Buhari administration’s decision to do away with the IGP months back arose from what it believed was Idris’ “penchant for embarrassing the Presidency and his many controversies, especially on matters bearing on the security of the country.

Already, more than 2,000 petitions have been sent to the Presidency, demanding Idris’ removal as IGP, a Presidency source said.

Many of these petitions, it was learnt, were forwarded to the Presidency by serving policemen, anonymously. Several other petitions on alleged corrupt practices of the IGP are also said to be currently before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

The Presidency, it was learnt, was also not happy with the alleged friction that occurred between Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo and the IGP, while Buhari was away in London for medical treatment and the former was the acting president last year.

The Presidency source said that Idris incurred Buhari’s wrath when the then acting president, during his visit to the President in London, reported an alleged act of insubordination, committed by the IGP. He had reportedly accused Idris of unilaterally withdrawing his (Osinbajo’s) police aide-de-camp, without first informing him or even seeking his consent.

Idris, who was said to have been queried then, had also reportedly defended his action by claiming that posting in the police force was a routine exercise that was the prerogative of his office, without recourse to any other government official or person.

“The IGP Idris’ response then angered the then acting president, who apparently felt slighted and reported the matter to President Buhari, who also was not happy with the police boss for such an act of insubordination, and that seemed to have been the beginning of his ordeal.

A report by a group simply identified as “Professionals,” comprising some prominent Nigerians, sent to the Presidency about the alleged incompetence of Idris as the country’s police boss, was also said to have worsened the case of the IGP.

The group, which was said to have, in the past ten months, mounted more pressure on the Presidency for Idris’ removal, it was learnt, had cited, in its report to the Presidency, the various cases of threats to internal security and violence across the country, which the IGP had failed to quell until troops of the Nigerian Army were drafted in to put such situations under control.

The group particularly pointed at his inability to quell the violent crisis that engulfed Zaria in Kaduna State, following an uprising by Shiites Islamic sect, led by Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zak Zaky, and his alleged failure to stop the incessant killings in Southern Kaduna by suspected Fulani marauders as “concrete evidence” of his incompetence as the nation’s IGP.

Among some of the allegations contained in the petitions forwarded against the IGP to the Presidency, it was learnt, was his habit of promoting junior officers to the higher rank of commissioner of police, above substantive holders of the rank, said to have been sidelined by Idris.

A source at the Louis Edet House, Abuja Headquarters of the force said that such “anointed officers” were usually posted out to states as commissioners of police to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the IGP across the country.

“There are more than 10 substantive commissioners of police benched at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, by IGP Idris. He prefers to promote their juniors above them and transfer his anointed officers to states as commissioners of police,” the source said.

A serving member of the National Assembly, Senator Isah Misau recently accused the IGP of tribalism and obtaining millions in bribes from police commissioners in exchange for favourable postings. The IGP’s recent wedding to a junior officer wasn’t left out of the fray as the senator accused the IGP of violating a problematic section of the police act.

Idris problem was compounded with an allegation of corruption leveled against him Senator Misau.

Misau had publicly accused Idris of failing to account for over N10billion he earned monthly from special security postings of over 100,000 policemen assigned to individuals and corporate bodies.

The senator also accused the IGP of having improper sexual relationships with junior female police officers, culminating in his recent secret marriage to one of them who he allegedly impregnated and had earlier promoted from the rank of a sergeant to an assistant superintendent of police within 12 months.

In response to the accusations, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation dragged Misau to court in a move that political watchers say was meant to divert attention from the weighty allegations. The filing of criminal charges against Misau over the matter by the AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, was, however, said to have irked the Presidency, which decided to finally move against the IGP.

The Presidency, it was also learnt, frowned upon the IGP’s alleged donation of two SUVs each to both the president’s wife, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, and the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, allegedly to curry their favour. The donation of the vehicles was said to have angered the Presidency because they were not part of the items contained in the police budget for 2016/ 2017.

The controversy that also trailed the police boss’ claim that he gave the two SUVs to the police security aides attached to the president’s wife and not to the First Lady herself, after Senator Misau opened more cans of worms about the scandals surrounding the IGP, was also said to have further embarrassed the Presidency.

Still on Idris controversies is his refusal to honour the invitation of the Nigerian senate to clear the air on certain controversies pertaining to his office as the nation’s number one cop. On three occasions, the police boss turned it down.

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INVESTIGATION

Insiders reveal: NHIS Chairman fighting Executive Secretary for exposing N1.5bn fraud, others

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The resolve of the Executive Secretary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Prof. Usman Yusuf to re-accredit the Health Management Organizations(HMOs) and ensure the implementation of a security report which mandated the ES to recover the sum of N1.05 billion allegedly embezzled by some HMOs may have pitched him against the Chairman of the NHIS Council, Dr. Enyantu Ifenne, this newspaper has learnt.
The executive secretary was last Thursday reportedly suspended indefinitely on the order of the council chairman ostensibly to allow unfettered investigation into a petition said to have been written against him some staff of the NHIS.
In a letter signed by its Chairman, Dr Eyantu Ifenne, the Council said “in line with the public service rule 030406, has resolved to suspend you, Professor Usman Yusuf, indefinitely with effect from 18th October 2018 to allow for a comprehensive and unfettered investigation of the issues in the petitions against you.”
However, staff of the organization kicked against the suspension claiming it was a unilateral decision by the chairman as seven out of the 11 council members reportedly walked out of the meeting. A senior Director of the organization instructed to take over from the ES in acting capacity also reportedly declined the offer in solidarity with staff.
In his response to the letter of suspension, Prof. Yusuf stated that contrary to the claims of the council that the NHIS Act and the Public Service Rules no.030406 conferred on it the power to suspend the executive secretary, it had no such powers, stressing that only the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria could order the suspension or removal of the ES.
Insiders with knowledge of the in-fighting in the NHIS explained that there was no love lost between the chairman of the council and the executive for reasons many of the staff consider as self-serving.
The most obvious reason, according to sources, is an alleged collusion between the chairman and HMOs which has considerably weakened the scheme but benefitted the HMOs. Since resuming as ES in 2016, Prof. Yusuf had indicated interest to sanitize the scheme and stop an alleged racket which had ensured that HMOs to NHIS funds for as long as they liked without paying hospitals offering service to enrollees in the scheme.
An internal audit carried out by the ES had also revealed a staggering number of ghost enrollees and hospitals while the HMOs continued to receive huge illegal payments. The Department of State Services (DSS) had also investigated the Scheme from 2013-2015, and one of the recommendations in its report is that HMOs should pay back the sum of N1.05b that they were illegally paid in 2015.
But it was learnt that even though the ES sought and got the council approval to recover NHIS funds and re-accredit the HMOs, the Chairman never supported the move. The Chairman reportedly called a Council meeting one week after the go-ahead was given and asked a representative of the HMOs to address them on why they should not pay back the money.
“The meeting was attended by only four of the 11 council members, and after the presentation the Chairman asked the HMOs not to pay back any money to NHIS,” a senior staff explained. On several occasions, the Chairman had also allegedly circulated council meetings among certain HMOs, an action that was frowned upon by the ES who warned against given undue access and advantage to some HMOs above others at a time they were being accredited.
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NEWS

Lagos pepper seller dies in police custody

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The family members of a Lagos trader, Mrs Basirat Akinmushire, have demanded an investigation into her death while in the custody of the Inspector-General of Police Intelligence Response Team, Lagos.

They said the 54-year-old, who was arrested at a market on Isolo Housing Estate, Isolo, was hale and hearty until the police called to inform them that she had died.

Our correspondent learnt that a rights group, Network for Police Reforms in Nigeria, had written the Police Service Commission on behalf of the family, alleging that the suspect was extra-judicially murdered.

PUNCH Metro had reported that a man, Olatunde Adetunji, was arrested by the police team in the Ikeja area for alleged robbery and cultism.

Adetunji, an alleged member of the Eiye Confraternity, was said to have claimed that Basirat, aka Area Mama, kept the gang’s weapons.

The 31-year-old allegedly said they usually paid her N5,000 after every successful operation.

The pepper seller, who was subsequently arrested, was said to have told the police that she was coerced into keeping the guns used by the gang.

She allegedly confessed to have transferred two guns belonging to the gang to one Junior, aka Jungle.

Basirat, according to a statement she allegedly made to the police, said the gang threatened to kill her if she leaked their secret.

The police had claimed that the woman, while leading detectives to Junior’s hideout, attempted to escape and fell into a ditch where she got injured.

The deceased’s younger brother, Babajide Lateef, while denying the allegation of arms keeping, said the mother of three was arrested on September 13.

He said, “Since that Thursday that she was arrested, we started going to their office in Ikeja, but we were prevented from seeing her. This was ongoing when we read it in the newspapers that she was attempting to escape when she fell into a ditch.

“On Friday, September 28, the police called us and announced that she was dead. On October 2, we were taken to a morgue to see her corpse. We were told that it was when she was running away that she fell and she was taken to a hospital, where she was admitted to until her death.

“She was not the kind of woman that would keep guns for robbers. She was a gentle woman and did not make trouble with people. I am not saying this because I am a family member; ask from her church members and co-tenants and everybody will testify to her good character.

“Initially, we decided to take her corpse for burial after we were asked to write a letter for the release of her corpse; we had called a lawyer who drafted a letter for us. But when we were told to swear to an affidavit that after the body was released to us we would not make any trouble, we consulted some lawyers who advised against it because the police could use it against us and arrest family members.

“At this point, what we want is the help of the government to unravel the cause of her death and the reason for the affidavit.”

Lateef lamented the effect of the death on the deceased’s husband, a retired head teacher.

He said the widower, Samuel Akinmushire, was admitted to a hospital for three days and had suffered depression.

The National Coordinator of NOPRIN, Okechukwu Nwanguma, in a letter to the Chairman of the PSC, asked that an autopsy be conducted on the corpse.

“The police claimed to have carried out an autopsy, but the family did not know when and where this happened. The family demands a thorough and impartial investigation to unravel the actual cause of death. As part of this investigation, the family demands a transparent autopsy where the family medical and legal representatives will be present.

“NOPRIN calls on the PSC to ensure a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the cause of death and that necessary actions should be taken against any officer involved if a case of extrajudicial killing is established,” he said.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said there was no foul play in the death.

He said, “The police were investigating a very serious case of armed robbery and gunrunning. Along the line, the woman became a suspect in the case. She was arrested on the suspicion that she was the gang’s armourer and she admitted to the crime.

“She mentioned the name of another suspect whom she claimed had some of the guns. She was taking police operatives to the place when she suddenly jumped out of the vehicle and started running. They chased her and she fell and broke her leg.

“She was taken to the Police College Cottage Hospital, Ikeja, from where she was referred to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, for better treatment. LASUTH further referred her to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi. Days later, the woman died at the hospital.”

Oti explained that the affidavit demanded by the police was only a requirement by law to ensure the deceased’s family did not return to deny receiving the corpse.

SOURCE: PUNCH

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NEWS

EFCC investigates abandon projects in Nigeria

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The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) says it has set up a team to commence investigation of abandoned government projects across the country.

Acting EFCC Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Magu, said this would help the anti-graft agency to know the level of completion of the projects, as well as the funds being spent on them.

“The move is to ensure that the contractors complete the projects for the benefit of the people and the development of the country,’’ he said.

Magu said the agency was ready to fight corruption, but with the support of all stakeholders in the country.

The EFCC boss therefore called on Nigerians to identify such projects in their respective areas and report to the commission, for necessary action.

“This is where you can help us, if there is any abundant project we will go after them, because most people collect money and they don’t execute the contract,” he said.

According to him, some contracts were awarded without the intention to execute them. (NAN)

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