Police Intimidation: Tinubu sacks Solomon Arase after ICIR petition, Economy Post story

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has sacked Mr Solomon Arase as the chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC). Mr Tinubu in his stead appointed a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Hashimu Argungu, as the new chairman of the commission.

This is coming after a petition was written to the president by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) regarding an alleged corruption and abuse of office by Mr Arase. Economy Post reported the story on Saturday, June 8.

The ICIR had called for Mr Arase’s suspension and investigation over an alleged corruption which involved Mr Arase and some individuals.

READ ALSO: Police intimidation: ICIR petitions President Tinubu, demands Solomon Arase’s investigation, suspension

The ICIR investigation had alleged that some police officers assisted a contractor and Managing Director of Copran international Limited, Mr Andy Chime, to forge the signature of a deceased Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mr Saleh Abubakar, to secure a contract.

Hashimu Argungu, new chairman of the Police Service Commission

Mr Chime had allegedly used the documents to obtain a loan of N573 million from the Nigeria Police Mortgage Bank and also unlawfully deployed the houses on the land as collateral, thus shortchanging the police.

According to the report, two former Inspectors-General of Police, Mr Ibrahim Idris and Mr Solomon Arase, allegedly got house allocations worth over N200 million as incentives for awarding an estate development contract to Copran International Limited owned by Mr Chime, for land originally meant to be used as police barracks.

The ICIR had also complained about the involvement of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Mr Kayode Egbetokun, in the corruption matter involving Mr Arase, asking the president to prevent both men from using their offices to intimate journalists.

Police intimidation

After publication, the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrimes Centre (NPF-NCCC) invited two ICIR staff members, Mr Aiyetan and Mr Nurudeen Akewushola (who wrote the report) for questioning, during which they were detained for over nine hours.

The petition to the president noted that the invitation was at the behest of the former IGP and now former PSC Chairman, Mr Solomon Arase, and the contractor indicted in the investigation, Mr Chime, both of whom had submitted petitions to the police over the report.

“Thus, the Police appeared more interested in protecting the interest of the person who allegedly fraudulently sold its property than investigating the allegations against him and recovering its property.

“Curiously, during the interrogation of Aiyetan and Akewushola by the NPF-NCCC, the investigating officers and the Director of the NPF-NCCC, Uche Ifeanyi Henry, were not interested in Andy Chime’s accusations but the source of the ICIR’s report and the evidence it had against Mr Arase,” The ICIR noted in its petition.

The petition also noted that the NPF-NCCC director tried to force the journalists to release evidence gathered in the course of reporting, which would be required for their defence in a case already filed by Arase.

“Mr Arase’s petition, which he personally signed, was written on the letterhead of the Police Service Commission, of which Mr Arase is the Chairman.

“We consider this as a brazen and flagrant abuse of office by the Chairman of the Police Service Commission, who by virtue of his position oversees promotions and appointments in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF). Using his official capacity to write a petition concerning a private matter was in all intent and purpose aimed at using the Police to intimidate and threaten the ICIR and its journalists,” the petition further read.

The ICIR in its petition urged President Tinubu to institute an independent investigation into the corruption allegations, which would exclude the police in the interest of justice and fairness. The petition also requested that the IGP be instructed to desist from allowing the police to intimidate or molest ICIR staff members and journalists.

“The harassment of the ICIR journalists is the latest in a trend whereby the Police has abducted or arrested journalists for alleged cyberstalking for merely publishing reports which the subjects of investigative reports find offensive. We regard this trend of attacking the media as a dangerous on and an attack on our democracy,” the petition read.

Other requests in the petition include an instruction restricting Arase from abusing the office of the PSC chairman and using it to influence the intimidation of ICIR staff members and his suspension from office to allow for an independent investigation of the corruption allegations reported by The ICIR.

The sack, replacement

Mr Arase’s sack and Mr Argungu’s appointment were announced in a statement on Monday by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, on Monday night.

READ ALSO: In response to ICIR/Economy Post story, Rivers State govt dissolves all revenue agencies

The statement entitled, “President Tinubu appoints new leadership for Police Service Commission and Nigerian Police Trust Fund,” said: “President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of DIG Hashimu Argungu (Rtd) as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission.

“The President has also approved the appointment of Chief Onyemuche Nnamani as Secretary and DIG Taiwo Lakanu (retd.) as member of the commission. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Other members of the Police Service Commission will be appointed in due course.”

The statement further said that President Tinubu had approved the appointment of Mr. Mohammed Sheidu as the executive secretary of the Nigeria Police Trust Fund with immediate effect.

“The President expects absolute demonstration of integrity, diligence, and patriotic zeal in the discharge of these important functions for the overall wellbeing of the Nigeria Police and the nation.”

Stella Odiche
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