By Paul Obi in Abuja and Okon Bassey in Uyo
Following the controversy that have trailed Police special promotion exercise, the Nigerian Police yesterday set up a Special Investigation Panel to unravel allegations of bribery in the promotion of Police officers.
This is as the Akwa Ibom State Police Command yesterday banned groups from protesting against the planned construction of a new Akwa Ibom State Governor’s Lodge worth N1.2 billion in Lagos State. Contrary to the State Government explanation on the project, a cross section of indigenes within and outside the state planed a mass peaceful protest in the state capital against the idea.
The setting up of the panel is coming on the heels of growing concerns raised by the Police Service Commission (PSC) Chairman, Mr. Mike Okiro and the Nigerian Senate.
According to Police Public Relations Officer (PRO), CSP Jimoh Moshood, “the Inspector General of Police, IGP Ibrahim K. Idris set up special Investigation Panel to investigate complaints and allegations credited to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Navy, Senator Isah Hamma Misau and other petitions and complaints emanating from Police officers on allegations of payment of money for special promotion.
“The Special Investigation Panel has consequently upon the directive of the Inspector General of Police invited Senator Isah Hamma Misau to a meeting to shed more lights and provide more details to the Panel that will assist them to conduct a very discreet investigation into his complaints and allegations, and those of other aggrieved Police officers.”
Moshood explained that “the Panel amongst other responsibilities has the following terms of reference: to investigate the complaints from Senator Isah Hamma Misau on allegations that Police Officers pay bribe for special promotion.”
The terms of reference also include “to investigate other complaints, petitions and grievances from Police Officers within the Force and from other members of the public on allegations of giving money for promotion, either special or otherwise.
“To determine the substance of the complaints, petitions and grievances from aggrieved Police Officers and members of the public on allegations of giving money for special promotion.”
They also include “to determine those who were involved, to recommend appropriate judicial action and other punishments as it is appropriate in line with the provisions of Public Service Rules Section 030401 (j) (k) and other statutory enabling laws/Acts.
The Panel is to submit reports to the Inspector General of Police within two (2) weeks.
Still in Akwa Ibom, another group of indigenes who supported the project had also planned to march simultaneously in similar rally at the same time and date in the state capital.
The State Police Command acknowledged receiving a letter from the opposition group to carry out the protest in Uyo and another letter from an organisation requesting for Police permission to carry out a demonstration.
“The two requests were intended to take place on the same date, time and location, and are all meant to draw large number of supporters.
“Considering the contrast intention of the two groups and the threat it pose to the security and safety of the good people of Akwa Ibom State, it becomes imperative that the Police Command, step in promptly to avert a total breakdown of law and order.
“The two groups were invited for dialogue with the Commissioner of Police and agreed that the proposed protests should be put off”, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Chukwu Ikechukwu said in a statement.
The Police urged residents in the state to go about their lawful activities and business as the Command had made adequate arrangement for their peace and security.
The Police Command warned that any person or group of persons bent at causing the breach of peace or break down of law and order would be dealt with in accordance with the law.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had during the week given reasons why the state government needed a new Governor’s Lodge in Lagos State saying contrary to N9.1 billion being speculated, the project was properly budgeted for with N1.2 billion allotted to it.
According to the Governor the project was not an economic waste of resources of the state but strictly to promote business engagement of the state government stressing that since it was just a proposal, it could only be implemented when fund was available.
Expressing concern, the Governor said he was not surprised for the spate of falsehood against his programmes sayings those who are hiding behind the cloak of cheap propaganda and blackmail to deride his administration, had limited knowledge of economics and business.
He argued that high profile meetings with consular generals and international business executives could not be held in the present Governor’s lodge of the state in Lagos which he described as a dilapidated building.
“This is a government that is trying to drive investments all over the world. Will Akwa Ibom people feel proud for me to host so many Consular Generals and investors in that kind of dilapidated building, what will it speak of the state?
“If in the course of looking for money, we have the money please allow us put this asset that can yield returns.”
“Some people are saying that the investments should not be done anywhere outside Akwa Ibom State. So do we sell off those assets that can actually generate return?, he asked
He said it was so illogical to reason that investments should be restricted to the state, asking “are they telling me that Exxon Mobil should not have left America to come and invest in Akwa Ibom?
With limited funds available, he said his administration was run by ideas and creativity that would bring out positive results.
Further questioning the negative criticisms, the Governor said, “If I can put in N1.2bn in an asset that is worth N30bn and then I can get adequate returns on those assets now that I don’t have so much money coming from crude oil, what is bad in that?”
He said in a short time people would come to realise the gains in the decisions he was taking, maintaining that he took every decision in the interest of Akwa Ibom and Akwa Ibomites.
He said Akwa Ibom State had a lot of prime properties in prime areas such as Broad Street, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and other areas in Lagos
The Governor argued that premium should not be on the location of the asset, but on the return on the assets, and wondered why people would criticise him by saying, “have you finished building Akwa Ibom, why go to Lagos?”
He said the same set of people were currently criticising the industries he was setting up in the state on the basis that they were concentrated in one region of the state, forgetting the basic rudiments of economics which harps on the essence of localisation of industries.
He recounted that most of the projects such as the electricity sub-station in Uyo, and the flood control project that he has executed had been criticised at the point of conceptualisation but now Uyo residents were enjoying over 22 hours of power supply a day, while the flood on Nsikak Eduok Avenue was now history.
The Governor, who lamented that the country was still behind time in the global economic trend, however advised people to key into his vision of development for Akwa Ibom State.
“We are looking at Africa as the next stage of world development and inventions, Akwa Ibom will never be at the back, we will be at the frontline as a shining star”, he declared