REVEALED: In-fighting rocks EFCC over Salami panel’s push for police exit

There is tension at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over the recommendation of the Justice Ayo Salami panel that police officers should be withdrawn from the agency.

TheCable reports that Course One officers, who are foundation members of the agency but are not police officers, have been accused of pushing the panel to withdraw police from the EFCC.

The Salami panel, which was set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe allegations of impropriety in the commission, recommended the removal of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman and the disengagement of police officers from the agency.

“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations), are on secondment in the EFCC. Therefore, an exit plan for the disengagement of the police and other personnel within two years from now should be considered. This will address the issue of no promotion of core staff for over nine years,” Salami told the president while submitting the report on Friday.

EFCC’s operations have always depended on the police for guidance and coordination, although the Department of State Services (DSS) helps with information gathering for the investigations.

“The move for the disengagement of the police was instigated by the overzealous ambition of a few elite Course One officers who feel that the police officers have served for 15 years and above. They want to control the agency. Unfortunately, the experienced ones among them are just a handful,” an official of the agency disclosed.

“Course One officers rooting for the discharge of the police are among the second batch of Course One, not the first batch. They have ignored the superiority of the first batch of officers and have lobbied themselves to be posted as zonal heads in flagrant disregard of the principles of regimentation. This breeds indiscipline. This will ruin the EFCC,” the official said.

Another official, who declined to be named because of “fears of repercussion”, said the current acting chairman, Mohammed Umar Abba, is “causing confusion” in the agency.

“I can understand his lack of experience — the highest posting he has ever held was a DPO in a village — but he allowed the Course One officers to use him during the Salami panel proceedings, and he probably did not understand the implications of supporting the move to withdraw police officers from the agency because he too would be a victim.”

TheCable also reports that argument of the Course One officers, sources disclosed, is that the police men and officers have overstayed at the agency.

They had been seconded to EFCC in 2003 and were the ones who pioneered the commission and also served as enforcement officers.

Magu was one of them, although he was in the first batch.

“These police officers have attended many courses on money laundering and economic crimes, home and abroad, with huge amounts expended on them by the country,” one of the sources said.

One of the officials who spoke with TheCable said Magu was unfairly treated and has not been served justice.

“I have no desire to serve this country again,” the official said, maintaining that Magu was not suspended because of any allegations of corruption.

 “Magu’s ill-treatment has shown that no one will be willing to sacrifice himself and his life to the fight against corruption in the future for fear of offending the political class who are using their evil machination to manipulate the president.

“Those in government stole billions of naira to embark on a nationwide property craze which the suspended chairman vowed to unravel. Some individuals also conspired to pull him out of the commission with a view to hiding their true nature. This is responsible for their current desperation to ensure he does not return to the commission for fear of reprisal.

“To understand the nature of the suspended chairman regarding corruption, only recently the national assembly, during the commission’s budget defence, discovered that a whooping N6 billion was left in the coffers of the commission because of prudent management.”

Since its establishment in 2003, the commission has been headed by police officers.

Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer chairman; Farida Waziri, his successor, and Ibrahim Larmode who took over from Waziri, led the agency as police officers.

The police started losing influence at the commission when the probe of Magu began.

Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police, had initially ordered the withdrawal of all the mobile policemen attached to the commission and later recalled key police officers at the EFCC.

Wilson Uwujaren, spokesman of the anti-graft agency neither answered calls nor replied a text message sent to him over the development.

Some officials of the EFCC complained over the “elevation of the junior officers above qualified senior officers”.

The EFCC officials who had spoken off the record had said those affected were demoralised that the current acting chairman approved the postings which were against the hierarchical standard in the commission.

“The new posting just came out and level 12/13 officers are put as zonal heads over a level 16 officer to be taking instructions from?” one of the sources had said.

Although Buhari has not made public any action on the report of the panel, he has vowed that his administration “will cut off any stream that supports the growth of corruption”.

He said the fight against corruption should be done without fear or favour, adding that no individual is bigger than the country.

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