- Bawa secures Buhari’s approval to absorb cops
- Interested officers must pass lie detector test
About 1000 police personnel working at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have been offered an opportunity to quit the Nigeria Police and transfer their services to the anti-graft agency as permanent staff.
The option was given to the police officers by the chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, after securing a presidential approval for the exercise, which is the first of its kind in the history of the commission.
The exercise, which has already started, is being undertaken to bring to an end the era of police officers working for the commission.
Since its establishment in 2003, police officers have been seconded to the anti-corruption body to help in carrying out its functions, a practice that has been blamed for hindering the progress of core EFCC staff for many years.
Following the presidential nod, police officers with interest in becoming EFCC agents were asked to submit applications.
Sources close to the commission disclosed that many police officers have taken the option of ending their career in the police force and applied for conversion to EFCC staffers.
The sources also disclosed that all the police officers working in the headquarters of the commission and all its offices across the country were considered qualified to apply for the change of service.
It emerged last year from the report of the Justice Ayo Salami panel of inquiry that investigated allegations of financial misconduct against Magu that 970 police officers, comprising drivers, mobile policemen and operations personnel, were on secondment at the EFCC.
The panel advised President Buhari to consider an exit plan for the disengagement of the police personnel within two years, so as to address the problem of non-promotion of core EFCC staff for over nine years.
Dateline Nigeria gathered that many officers have already applied to be absorbed into the EFCC and are awaiting the outcome.
An earlier exemption that excluded officers who have been with the commission for close to 10 years and were about to return to their duties with the police was later rescinded, a source disclosed.
Submitting applications to show interest is only a first step in a series of rigorous conditions that police officers have to meet before being allowed to drop their police uniform and cross over to the EFCC.
The intending officers also have to pass a polygraph (lie detector) test. Similarly, they will have to undergo medical screening to certify them fit and also attend a special interview session, Dateline Nigeria further learnt.
The screening, according to another source close to the EFCC, was batched for the three categories of police officers working at the commission.
He said the drivers who were in the first batch, went through a “thorough screening process”, at the end of which some of them were dropped. He said the detectives (operations) and mobile police batches were the next in line.
Our sources could not give the number of the interested applicants, but said the figure would be high, given that EFCC staff enjoy better salaries and allowances compared to their police counterparts.
Corroborating this, a police officer told Dateline Nigeria that secondment to the EFCC was always considered a choice posting and police personnel lobbied intensely for it because of the mouthwatering monthly allowance.
But the move to convert the police officers seconded to the EFCC is already causing concerns in the Nigeria police, as officers are making a case that it was capable of compounding the existing manpower challenge in the force.
A senior police officer who spoke to Dateline Nigeria on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press on the matter, said the police would lose the manpower needed to confront the security challenges facing the country.
He faulted both the timing of the exercise and the choice of police officers, stating that the commission should have sent back the attached officers to the police and trained its own men for its manpower needs.
But a source with the knowledge of the workings of the EFCC defended the action, explaining that it would end the era of the police recalling officers that the commission had trained even when they were most needed by the EFCC.
The EFCC, he said, accorded the same training opportunities for both core EFCC staff and seconded police officers. He said taking them back to the police after years of honing their skills and receiving both local and foreign training was to the detriment of the commission.
The spokesperson for the EFCC Wilson Uwujaren and his police counterpart CP Frank Mba did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali, ordered the withdrawal of senior police officers attached to the EFCC from the ranks of CSP and above, citing “operational requirements” of the police force as reason. About 25 CSPs were reportedly affected by the directive.
As well as hundreds of police officers working at the commission since its creation 19 years ago, the EFCC had until last year been headed by serving police officers. This stopped after Ibrahim Magu was removed as its acting chairman by Buhari and replaced last year by Abdulrasheed Bawa, its first core EFCC, non-police officer chairman. Other police officers who headed the commission before Magu, were Nuhu Ribadu (2003 to 2007), Farida Waziri (2008 to 2011) and Ibrahim Lamorde (2011 to 2015).