By Yusuf Alli, Abuja
Inspector-General (IG) Usman Alkali Baba’s directive on the immediate withdrawal of senior police officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is in line with the recommendations of the Justice Isa Ayo Salami’s panel of inquiry, it was learnt on Wednesday.
The Justice Salami panel claimed that about 850 police officers and men were attached to the agency.
But, the IG said his directive was informed by the prevailing operational requirements of the force.
The panel recommended that the EFCC needed a break from the control of the police.
It was learnt that the whittling down of the police grip will enable trained EFCC cadets to take charge of the anti-graft agency.
In an April 15, 2021 letter, signed by his Principal Staff Officer, Idowu Owohunwa, the IG asked the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to release all senior officers from the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and above attached to the commission.
Although the IGP cited operational exigency for the withdrawal, our correspondent gathered that it was in partial compliance with the implementation of the recommendations of Salami’s panel.
A source said: “The withdrawal of senior police officers from the EFCC is in line with the recommendations of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the commission. The IGP directive is part of the gradual implementation of the report of Salami’s panel.
“They said the deployment of police officers and men are contrary to the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.
“The panel was told that there are as many as 850 police officers and men in EFCC because of investigation, raid and enforcement of court order.
“While some members felt the number was on the high side, others described the figure as moderate in view of the huge number of investigations being conducted.
“Some of the senior cadets in EFCC asked Salami Panel to do away with the police in EFCC to enable them have a steady career growth.
“While appearing before the panel, some queried why only the police officers have been managing EFCC contrary to the EFCC Establishment Act 2004.
“The panel said the 850 police officers and men are too many in the anti-graft agency which has its own trained cadets.
In the letter, the IG asked all the affected officers to report to the Force Headquarters yesterday “for further instructions.”
The letter read in part: “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 IG demanded “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.”
But other sources, including retired police officers, faulted the advisory of Salami’s panel to ease out the police from EFCC.
Another source said: “Such an advisory to put EFCC’s woes on the police is unfair. In the last 17 years, EFCC recorded landmark achievements under the leadership of senior retired and serving police officers. All the past and present chairmen have won international awards. Police officers and men are not liabilities to EFCC.
“These same police detectives gave on-the-job training to the cadets. The essence of bringing police officers is to put the cadets through on investigation. There are still investigative manpower gaps to be filled in EFCC.
“The EFCC as it is now does not have enforcement unit. Policemen were seconded to the anti-graft agency to give back up during operations and when enforcement is required.”