By Anthony Opara
The Acting Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris called newsman together a few days ago and announced that the erstwhile IGP, Mr Solomon Arase and his DIGs had illegally removed several operational vehicles from the system, ostensibly as settlement for themselves.
The former IGP was said to have taken twenty four vehicles while the DIGs were said to have taken between seven and eight vehicles each.
Once the bomb shell was released Nigerians went to town to literarily destroy Mr Arase for being such a greedy and corrupt fellow. Some asked whether he was opening a car dealership to have taken or rather stolen so many cars. Others wondered whether he lost his mind after being removed from office given the anti corruption stand of the Buhari Administration.
However in a quick riposte, the former Police Chief who was said to have travelled out of the country to attend the graduation ceremony of one of his sons said the new Ag. IGP should go and read the handover note that he had been given where the whereabouts of the cars were stated in black and white.
Apparently the new IGP was too busy ‘sanitizing’ the force his former boss had left behind for him to take out time to read the hand over notes given to him. If he had read the notes he would have avoided the attempt to soil the name of the ex IGP.
Investigations by the Vanguard Newspaper showed that the cars declared missing by Mr. Idris were sent to an auto repair shop for total and comprehensive repairs for use of the next IGP.
Vanguard’s investigation showed that the cars were sent to Auto Computers located in the Jabi district of Abuja and that work on the spare BMW car has been completed and repainted. The spare staff car was said to have been having engine problems for the last five years before the last administration sent it for repairs.
A source at Auto Computer told the newspaper that the spare car was delivered to the Police headquarters on Sunday afternoon after completion of repairs and that officials of the company would visit the Acting IGP to demand for payment on the job done.
As for the armour-plated Staff Car, the paper was also told that because of the high technology embedded in the car, the company will need more time to fix the identified problems of the car as some of the needed parts will be imported.
The source pointed out that nobody approached Auto Computer to ask about the whereabouts of the cars, and that since it was the police that brought them, they (the company) just went about undertaking the required repairs.
When the paper reportedly sought to find out if the proper procedure of ascertaining location of the cars were followed, it was discovered that the Works Department and the Force Transport Department that would have been approached for explanations were not approached.
Rather, the IGP’s secretariat comprising of newly posted officers, were said to have written the former IGP demanding the whereabouts of the staff cars and other 22 vehicles, some the former IGP was said to have interpreted as a slight on his person.
Further investigation in other relevant departments regarding the whereabouts of other vehicles showed that the vehicles were intact and that while some were deployed for operations, the Police had records of the location of others.
In a civilized society the IGP would have quickly tendered an unreserved apology to his former boss who served this nation meritoriously. It is worrisome that the Chief of Police would make such a weighty statement against a retired IGP without due investigations.
He is apparently following in the steps of the EFCC where allegations against people are bandied about in the media even with very scant proof. In the so called war against corruption what we have been seeing is trial in the media. There is no conviction worth showing for the huge amounts of money that are being expended in the investigations.
Let us at this point not forget that the former head of the EFCC is on the run having been alleged to have stolen millions of naira being part of the evidence kept in the custody of the agency. Before fleeing he had filed a case against the agency to confuse issues and throws pot shots from without when it suits him. Nothing is being done seriously to extradite him to answer to charges against him yet this government claims to be fighting corruption.
Over a month ago it was reported in the media that the former PDP spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh had agreed to return about 400million Naira to the government in a plea bargain arrangement. Until now nothing has been heard on the matter.
We deplore the latest attempt by the Police hierarchy to denigrate the former IGP. The new Police Inspector General should concentrate on the onerous task of policing Nigeria and encourage the force to properly investigate matters before bringing them to the court.
We also take note of the penchant of the President to blame the courts for not throwing people accused of corruption into jail when investigations into the cases are shoddy, and thus giving defence lawyers enough ammunition to shoot down the cases in open court. The President appears to be forgetting that we are operating a democracy where an accusation is not the same thing as a conviction.