Sunday, 26 May 2013
Promoting Corruption And Misconduct In The Nigeria Police
On August 1, 2012, the Police Service Commission announced, among others, the promotion of eight Commissioners of Police to the rank of Assistant Inspectors-General of Police. Among the promoted CPs is Mr. Bala Hassan.
NOPRIN is seriously concerned by the Police Service Commission’s once more outrageous decision, this time, to promote Mr. Bala Hassan despite several petitions against him pending before it (the commission) without first determining those cases. Successive Inspectors General of Police have also received, but failed to act on petitions against Mr. Bala Hassan over allegations of corruption, fraud and sundry criminal conducts.
In one of the allegations of ‘conspiracy, forgery and stealing’, which was brought against him while serving as CP Rivers, a report of investigation by the Police Special Fraud Unit, indicted him. NOPRIN considers it an act of debauchery that the PSC could promote such a man who carries a heavy moral baggage rather than sanctioning him as deterrence. Ironically, ‘according to a statement by Ferdinand Ekpe, Chief Information Officer of the Commission, the elevation of the senior officers, which is in furtherance of repositioning the Personnel Management Affairs of the Nigeria Police Force, is aimed at giving the nation the security organization it truly deserved.’
By a letter dated April 11, 2012, NOPRIN- for the second time, called the attention of the Chairman of Police Service Commission, Mr. Parry Osayande to the allegation of ‘forgery, fraudulent auctioning and purchase of exhibit property by BALA HASSAN then CP Rivers (08033126781) and the failure by successive Inspectors General of Police to bring him to account despite a Police (Special Fraud Unit) investigation report which indicted him.
NOPRIN had by previous letters dated January 05, 2010 brought to the attention of the then IGP- Mr. Ogbonnaya Onovo, and this self-same Chairman, Police Service Commission, the complaint of alleged ‘conspiracy, forgery and stealing’ brought to NOPRIN’s attention by Mr. Augustine Okpara (08033045120), a Nigerian businessman based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Augustine Okpara informed NOPRIN- and NOPRIN’’s independent investigation confirmed that Mr. Bala Hassan, who was the CP Rivers State Police Command as at the time of his commission of these criminal and illegal acts, ‘auctioned’ three cars belonging to the complainant. The complainant informed NOPRIN that the CP sold one of the ‘auctioned’ cars to himself and sold the rest two to his friends while the case was still pending in court.
Augustine Okpara also informed NOPRIN that, in order to cover up his track, Bala Hassan quoted a fictitious edition of Vanguard Newspaper in which he claimed to have advertised the items to be auctioned. But investigators checked and found out that the quoted advertisement was never contained in the quoted edition of the newspaper. This was a clear case of forgery.
By the time NOPRIN sent the first set of petitions to the IGP and the PSC in 2010, Mr. Bala Hassan had been transferred to the Force Headquarters as CP Legal. He was later posted to Abia State Command as CP and later again, posted to his home state, Bornu State as CP of Bornu State Command. While no known action was taken by either the previous and current IGP or the PSC in response to the several petitions as well as the report of police investigation which indicted him, the said CP Bala Hasan was rather promoted to Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, a position that qualifies and positions him as a possible candidate to be appointed Inspector General of the Nigeria Police.
Following a petition by Augustine Okpara to the DIG Investigations through the Special Fraud Unit (SFU), Lagos, the SFU carried out investigation and confirmed that indeed, the three cars were auctioned during the pendency of investigation and during the period of trial in court. By a report captioned ‘Police Investigation Report RE: Case of Conspiracy and Fraud reported against the Exhibit Section RE: Request for Police Report’ with Reference No.
CR:3000/X/SFU/ dated 8th Dec., 2010 and signed by ACP Douglas U. Agbonleni, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Admin) for CP SFU, and addressed to Mr. Augustine Okpara, the Police stated that:
‘…after a thorough investigation of the allegations in your petition, the following observations were made:
a.) That it is a fact that you were indeed investigated for a case of fraud reported by the United Bank for Africa for which you were charged to court in 2008 and eventually discharged and acquitted of all the counts in April 2009.
b.) That it is a fact that your vehicles with registration numbers Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep Reg No. ET 210 ABJ, Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep Reg No. DQ 557 PHC and Mercedes CLK Car, Reg No. HH 188 KJA were impounded from you and registered as exhibits during the pendency of the investigation and the period of trial.
c.) That it is also a fact that the said vehicles were indeed sold through auction by the Rivers State Police Command in July 2009.’
‘Also be advised that the report has been forwarded to the office of the Inspector General of Police for further necessary action.’
NOPRIN was told that when the officer in charge of exhibits at the State CID, Port Harcourt saw the three cars in the list sent by CP Bala Hassan for auctioning, he drew CP Bala Hassan’s attention to the fact that the three cars were not the Rivers State CID’s exhibits, but FCID, Alagbon’s exhibits, and that the case involving the three cars was still pending in court. For saying this, CP Bala Hassan ordered the detention of the Supol, and within a period of one month, he suffered incessant punitive transfers across the country for saying the truth. As at 2012, when NOPRIN wrote the last petition, the Supol was serving at the Police Staff College, Jos. Police colleges are considered as ‘Siberia’ in the NPF.
It is quite scandalous that rather than the Police Service Commission, under Mr. Parry Osayande, bringing Mr. Bala Hassan to account for corruption and crime, the commission, a police oversight agency opted to promote him to AIG thereby promoting corruption, crime and misconduct in the police. This is sheer debauchery!
Okechukwu Nwanguma is Program and Advocacy Coordinator
Network on Police Reform in Nigeria