There was confusion and drama at the Force Headquarters in Abuja, yesterday, as the sacked Inspector-General of Police, Mr Suleiman Abba, stalled the formal handover to his successor, Mr Solomon Arase, until he was compelled to do so by the Presidency.
This came as some former Inspectors-General of Police expressed reservations over the manner Abba was removed while other leaders were divided over the sack.
The handover ceremony which was earlier slated for 8 a.m. with invitations sent to journalists for coverage from the office of the Force Public Relations Officer, did not take place until almost 4pm following the absence of the ex-Police boss at the headquarters.
Abba was said to have removed all his personal belongings before leaving the office around 11.20 p.m. after the announcement, Tuesday. According to his aides, when they visited his official residence at Maitama early yesterday, Abba said he was yet to receive any official letter informing him to hand over as he heard the news of his sack on radio and television like other Nigerians.
Vanguard learnt that reporters who converged in their numbers early in the morning for the handover, were disappointed as they were not allowed access to Force Headquarters. No reasons, according to sources, were given for the delay in the handing over ceremony.
3 DIGs protest appointment of Arase
Meanwhile, uncertainty continued to pervade Force Headquarters after it was reliably gathered that three of the serving Deputy Inspectors-General of Police were holding an emergency secret meeting in one of the offices on the 6th floor of the headquarters building.
Feelers from the meeting indicated that they resolved to strongly protest the appointment of their contemporary, Arase, DIG Intelligence, as acting Police boss on the grounds that they were all promoted same day on February 20, 2014.
The three DIGs were also said to have sworn to contest the appointment of Arase to the highest level because they were not well treated by his appointment. While palpable tension generated by the ugly development threw Force Headquarters into confusion, other top officers and the rank and file were seen in different moods.
Many of them stood in groups discussing the development in hushed tones. Some officers were also seen in jubilant mood, praising President Goodluck Jonathan for taking the decisive action.
They alleged that they were not well treated by the former IGP during the elections as they were not paid their due allowances. Many of the officers, however, commended the appointment of Arase, noting that he is well suited for the job.
Handover at last
While the situation continued to generate tension, relief came at last after the Presidency reportedly directed that the ceremony must be completed without fail before end of the working day.
This, according to sources, forced Abba to quickly rush to Force Headquarters after directing Force Public Relations Officer to issue fresh releases inviting reporters for the ceremony at 2.30pm. The handover later took place around 4.30pm.
I’ll provide highest possible level of professional leadership —Arase
After the dust had settled, the acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Ehigiator Arase, yesterday took over command of the Nigeria Police Force from his predecessor, Abba, with a declaration that he will provide the highest possible level of professional leadership while trusting that officers and men shall march hand-in-hand with him to advance the fortunes of the Force.
Arase made the declaration even as he warned unrepentant felons who may want to put to test the common will of the Force by disrupting the re-run elections in Imo, Abia and Taraba states to think again as the Force will not hesitate to deploy its potent assets to deal firmly and decisively with deviants.
His words: “My dear officers, the task of blending our acclaimed quality human assets with quality leadership is the main challenge ahead of us but it is one I am convinced we can surmount.
“In so doing, we must resolve, both individually and collectively, to hold our duties sacred, perform our functions with pride and exhibit the highest level of professional excellence in all our engagements.
“Let me use this opportunity to quickly remind you that aside our routine operations, we have within the short term, two major national assignments where our professional expertise and commitment will once again be subjected to national and international scrutiny. First, is the conduct of the governorship elections in areas where they were declared inconclusive by INEC— Imo, Abia and Taraba states.
“The second is the delivery of hitch-free presidential, governorship, National/state Assembly inauguration at federal and state levels. While with your support, I am confident that we have the operational capacity to ensure the success of both exercises, I am not unmindful of the possible security threats that some lawless individuals may attempt to pose during the make-up elections.
“Consequently, while the unique intelligence assets of the force will be deployed to proactively support our operational plans, there shall also be massive deployment of men and materials to the affected areas in order to assure a secure environment for the qualified electorate to exercise their franchise.
“I must, however, re-emphasize that as a nation, we have had enough of electoral violence. Therefore, under my leadership, we shall work closely with INEC and other strategic stakeholders to ensure that such acts will not only be defined as intolerable; perpetrators will be identified, isolated and brought to deserved justice to act as deterrence.
Arase urges politicians to play the game by the rules
“To the unrepentant felons that may want to put our common will to test, the message is being relayed here loud and clear, that in securing the law-abiding, we shall also not hesitate to deploy our potent assets to deal firmly and decisively with deviants. In addition, I will ensure that the AIGs and CPs that will be deployed for the election duties are empowered enough to ensure the success of their operations.
“In line with the principle of ‘to whom much is given, much more is expected’, such senior officers should be prepared to be accountable for their actions while the exercise lasts.”
While calling on political actors to assist the Police and other law enforcement agents in sustaining the gains recorded in our democracy journey, the Acting IG said:
“They should remember that politics is a game guided by rules and it behoves them to play the game by the rules.”
On Abba, he said: “Aside being a vastly experienced police administrator, IGP Suleiman Abba is known to be gifted with exceptional leadership qualities which have manifested in his trade mark comportment, humility and respect and courtesy with which he treated members of his management team throughout his tenure. Even more elating is that he is a unique motivational leader that demonstrated genuine passion for the welfare of officers and men of the force.”