The inspector-general of police, Suleiman Abba, was fired yesterday by President Goodluck Jonathan for not interpreting the script to rig the March 28 and April 11 elections in favour of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The script, according to the PDP high command, was to use police authorities to coerce the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials to rig the vote and return the president in the March 28 election.
It was learnt that the president was miffed by Abba’s inability to deliver on the election days.
Suspicions that police and the military were going to be used to distort and disrupt the electoral process were rife in the build-up to the general elections.
In a vain effort to veil the reason for Abba’s forced retirement, the government has been weaving stories around his performance and loyalty.
A terse statement by presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, did not disclose why the IGP was sacked; it just said the president had relieved IGP Abba of his appointment and duties “with immediate effect.”
The statement added that Jonathan had also appointed Deputy Inspector-General of Police Solomon Arase as acting inspector-general of police, also with immediate effect.
Investigation, however, revealed that the president’s action was a backlash for police conduct during the recent presidential and governorship elections.
Sources within security circles and the presidency confided in our reporters that IGP Suleiman “committed a litany of sins that have ultimately cost him his exalted position.”
According to the sources, there was a security blueprint designed to aid President Jonathan coast home to victory in the presidential election and also assist the PDP win most of the states during the governorship election.
Abba was said to have been part of the blueprint at the initial stage but was said to have backed out of the deal at the very last minute, by ensuring that police personnel deployed for election duties showed a high degree of impartiality and fair play for all the political parties.
The source revealed that both the president and his henchmen concluded that “Abba reneged and that made the environment conducive for free and fair polls that returned the opposition All Progressive Congress (APC) to attain resounding victory over the PDP in most states, especially in the north.”
His colleagues alleged that Abba abandoned the blueprint and allowed the DIGs to call the shots during the elections.
He was also accused of not being firm on “the directive to capture the two key states of Rivers and Lagos” where the contest was particularly important to both the PDP and the APC.
The IGP’s redeployments of top police commanders on the eve of the presidential election and the follow-up redeployments on the eve of the governorship elections also drew the ire of the presidency which felt that the actions were actually meant to give the opposition APC a level playing ground in the elections.
Another source disclosed that the president was particularly piqued by the huge sum of money made available to the police for election purposes, which was actually meant to compel the officers to give the PDP unalloyed loyalty and the opportunity to swing the votes during the elections.
A security source disclosed that the presidency planted informers around the IGP who monitored him and many of them readily sold the IGP out in a bid to curry favour from the presidency.
They mentioned IGP Abba’s alleged presence at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport during the return of President-elect Muhammadu Buhari from his country home in Daura, Katsina State, and also his presence during INEC’s issuance of the certificate of return to Buhari as indicative of the IGP’s loyalty to the president-elect.
Abba’s tenure is the shortest in the nation’s history: he served as substantive IGP for five months. He was confirmed IGP on November 4, 2014, although he was appointed in acting capacity on August 1, 2014, to succeed Mohammed Abubakar who had retired after 35 years of service.
With his removal yesterday, Abba will proceed on a forced retirement four years ahead of his due retirement time. He enlisted in the Nigerian Police as a cadet inspector on December 31, 1984, and would have been due for retirement on March 22, 2019.
His replacement, Mr Solomon Arase, is the first man to serve three inspectors-general as principal staff officer (PSO). His last posting was as the deputy inspector-general (DIG) and head of the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department.
Arase holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in law, political science and strategic studies. He is also a fellow of the Nigerian Defence College.
Abba Suleiman hails from Gwaram Local Government Area of Jigawa State and holds degrees in history and law. He also attended several management and security courses within and outside Nigeria and is an alumnus of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.
He was on Monday lauded by the United States ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle, for the glowing conduct of police officers during the last elections.
Abba had an eventful career in the police. He was an assistant inspector general (AIG) in charge of Zone 7 command. He was also a former aide-de-camp (ADC) to the wife of the late former military head of state, Maryam Abacha.