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Tinubu sacks PSC chairman, Solomon Arase, days after ICIR’s petition against him

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has sacked the chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC) Solomon Arase, three days after receiving a petition by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) against him.

The ICIR requested that the President suspend and probe Arase due to his corrupt practices while he served as Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and for abusing his office as the PSC chairman.

Additionally, this organisation informed the President of how Arase had been using the police to harrass The ICIR’s staff members after publishing an investigative report that exposed his sleaze while serving as the IGP.

Although Arase is meant to serve for four years under the Commission’s Act, Tinubu appointed Hashimu Argungu as the new PSC chairman on Monday, June 10, less than two years into his tenure.

This was contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale on Monday.

“President Bola Tinubu has approved the appointment of DIG (Deputy Inspector-General of Police) Hashimu Argungu (Rtd) as the Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC).

“The President has also approved the appointment of Chief Onyemuche Nnamani as Secretary and DIG Taiwo Lakanu (Rtd) as member of the commission,” the statement read.

Ngelale disclosed that the appointments were subject to confirmation by the Senate, as contained in the PSC’s Act.

The ICIR’s investigation on Arase’s infractions in office revealed that he and another former IGP, Ibrahim Idris, were accused of receiving house allocations worth over N200 million as incentives for awarding an estate development contract to Copran International Limited, for land originally meant to be used as police barracks.

Following the publication, the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrimes Centre (NPF-NCCC) invited The ICIR’s Executive Director Dayo Aiyetan and the reporter who conducted the investigation, Nurudeen Akewushola, for questioning, during which they were detained for over nine hours.

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The petition written by The ICIR to the President noted that the police invitation was at Arase’s behest, and the contractor indicted in the investigation, Andy Chime, both of whom had submitted petitions to the police over the report.

“Thus, the Police appeared more interested in protecting the interest of the person who allegedly fraudulently sold their property than investigating the allegations against him (Arase) and recovering their property.

“Curiously, during the interrogation of Aiyetan and Akewushola by the NPF-NCCC, the investigating officers and the director of the NPF-NCCC, Uche Ifeanyi Henry, were not interested in Andy Chime’s accusations but the source of The ICIR’s report and the evidence it had against Mr Arase,” The ICIR noted in its petition.

The petition also noted that the NPF-NCCC Director tried to force the journalist to release evidence gathered during his investigation, which would be required for their defence in a case already filed by Arase.

This organisation also noted that Arase’s petition to the police had been written on the PSC letterhead, and described it as an abuse of office.

“We consider this as a brazen and flagrant abuse of office by the chairman of the Police Service Commission, who by virtue of his position oversees promotions and appointments in the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

“Using his official capacity to write a petition concerning a private matter was in all intent and purpose aimed at using the Police to intimidate and threaten The ICIR and its journalists,” the petition further read.




     

     

    Earlier, Arase also used the PSC platform to announce that he had filed a lawsuit against some of The ICIR’s staff members, including the executive director, Aiyetan, the reporter, Akewushola, and the organisation’s editor, Bamas Victoria.

    The ICIR in its petition, therefore, urged Tinubu to launch an independent investigation into the corruption allegations, which will exclude the Police in the interest of justice and fairness.

    The petition also requested that The IGP be instructed to desist from allowing the police to intimidate or molest The ICIR staff members and journalists.

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    Other requests in the petition include an order restricting Arase from abusing the office of the PSC chairman and using it to influence the intimidation of The ICIR staff members and his suspension from office to allow for an independent investigation of the corruption allegations reported by this organisation.

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    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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