The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Alkali, has ordered an immediate withdrawal of senior police officers attached to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The development signals a simmering hostility between the two law enforcement agencies with a longstanding history of collaboration that has helped the anti-graft agency to meet its personnel needs since inception.
This newspaper, late Tuesday, obtained a copy of the IGP’s letter dated April 15, 2021 asking the EFCC chair, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to release all senior officers from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), and above, attached to the commission.
The letter, signed on behalf of the IGP by his Principal Staff Officer, Idowu Owohunwa, an acting commissioner of police, cited “the current operational requirements” as the reason for the withdrawal of the police officers.
The correspondence (with reference number, CB: 3380/IGP.SEC/ABJ/VOL.3/547) which was said to have been received with “shock” by the commission, also directed the affected officers to report to Mr Owohunwa by 10a.m. on Wednesday “for further instructions.”
“I write to extend the warmest regards of the Inspector General of Police and to inform the Chairman that the Inspector General of Police 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 requirements 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,” the read in part.
In addition, the IGP also requested the EFCC chair to “avail this office (IGP office) the comprehensive nominal roll of all police personnel attached to the EFCC to include their date of transfer and designations in the agency for the purpose of updating our records.”
Wide gap in EFCC?
PREMIUM TIMES understands that 25 CSPs performing crucial operational roles at the EFCC are affected by the IGP’s directive which is bound to have an immediate negative impact on the commission’s operations.
The development is coming barely two months after Mr Bawa assumed office as EFCC chair and less than two weeks after Mr Alkali was appointed acting IGP.
The anti-graft agency, which was said to have been shocked by the IGP’s directive, is worried that the development came at a time when it has yet to take full benefit of the resources it expended on training the officers.
“These are officers holding crucial positions at the EFCC. A lot of resources have been expended on them to train them to work for the commission, and the commission has not taken full benefit of its investment on them.
“They are sectional heads in the commission with many detectives under them receiving training from them. Some of them are even currently handling crucial national assignments on behalf of the commission. This is going to create a wide gap within the commission,” a top EFCC official, who asked not to be named because of lack of authority to speak to the media on the matter, told PREMIUM TIMES.
There has been a longstanding collaboration between the police and the EFCC in the area of deployment of police officers to the commission as detectives and for other operational roles.
All previous EFCC chairpersons since inception had policing background.
Mr Bawa, a pioneer cadet officer of the commission, is the first chair of the anti-graft agency without policing background.