Benjamin Salihu Ikani, a lawyer, joined the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) as a pioneer officer in 1990. Today, he is unhappy. After rising through the ranks in the Directorate of Prosecution to Assistant Director before he was made Director of Inspectorate, he was granted leave of absence in 2003, when he was appointed Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Kogi State.
However, upon his return to the agency in 2005, things started assuming a gruesome dimension for this officer. His offence: he was made secretary of the Justice Obayan Presidential Committee for the Reorganisation of NDLEA, which came up with far-reaching recommendations on how to reposition the agency. Perhaps because the committee submitted a scathing report about the mindboggling malfeasances rocking the agency, Ikani was said to have been singled out for reprisal attacks. After concluding the national assignment, he was promptly transferred to Ekiti State as Commander, a position lower than that of a Director that he was before his leave of absence.
Not done yet, he was transferred to Yobe State as Commander before he was further, once again, demoted to Assistant Commander in Borno State in 2009, where he has remained till date after surviving two attempts to ease him out of service prematurely. Sadly for Ikani, he was last promoted in 2001, with several of his juniors having left him behind by at least three ranks.
In the same boat with Ikani is Paul Audu, a chief superintendent of narcotics whose predicament is a public knowledge. Besides the fact that he was last promoted in 2006, this officer who is said to be a loyal and hardworking operative was posted to Yobe State in June 2007 as a prosecutor, and has remained there ever since. Not only that, he has been stagnated on a rank for almost ten years, with many of his former juniors now his superiors. It is so bad for him that he now works under an assistant commander (operations and intelligence) who used to be his junior officer. His offence: Daring to come up with an operational strategy to rake in some of the barons, leading to the arrest of Akindele Akimuluyi, an elusive drug baron, who was later convicted. In his petitions, Audu claimed that he was in the process of uncovering Akindele’s litany of assets, which would have led to the arrest of several other barons and dismantling of drug networks when Giade, fully aware of the efforts, directed that he be posted outside Lagos, first Adamawa and later Taraba State.
But Ikani and Audu are not alone. Also in the league of unhappy officers is Anthony Ohanyere, a lawyer and alumnus of the elite Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies who is reputed to be one of the doyens of anti-money laundering laws in Nigeria. Despite his experience, Ohanyere has been stagnated on the same rank for the last 13 years. He is “languishing” in Enugu State as Commander whereas those junior to him are now directors at the agency headquarters. So is Wale Ige, a pioneer officer and holder of a PhD of many years, who is also an alumnus of the National Institute for Strategic Studies. Not only is this well-read officer stagnated, he now serves under a far junior officer in Adamawa State.
The favoured ones
Since Giade took over the leadership of the agency in 2005, tongues have never stopped wagging about his style of leadership. Many serving officers have alleged in their various petitions to the Presidency and the National Assembly that he thrives on sentiments. It is alleged that some operatives from a section of the country are being recycled within ‘juicy’ commands of their choice, while others not so favoured are stagnated in far-flung places.
For example, there is a long-standing general practice in the NDLEA, which encourages constant redeployment of officers after four years in a command, be it juicy or dry. The aim is to ensure safety of operatives, among other things. However, this has been observed in the breach over the last ten years under Giade. That is why it is possible for Hamza Umar from Katsina State, an officer recruited into the agency in 1993, to remain as commander for seven years at Muritala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), which is regarded as one of the busiest gateways for drug trafficking into and from Nigeria. Despite having several other officers senior to him, especially those who joined the agency in 1990, Umar still calls the shots at MMIA.
He is not alone in the league of beneficiaries of Giade’s alleged favouritism. Hamise Lawan, commander at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, is also from the North and has been there for eight years. Petitioners also complain that other cronies of Giade are recycled around Tin Can Island, Apapa Sea Ports, Kano and Enugu airports. Among the directors in the agency, there is one called Hussein Baba from Kebbi State, who has been director for the past ten years under Giade. He was said to have performed shamefully as director of Investigation and Operations, but he is redeployed as director in charge of Drug Demand Reduction unit where has been for the past three years without any meaningful impact on the agency and the war on narcotics.
Unfortunately, like Baba, none of the officers that are alleged to be in Giade’s good book is known for any spectacular or extraordinary service delivery that is deserving of preferential treatment being meted out to them.
Although the NDLEA boss, in the exercise of his powers, may reward exceptional hard work, devotion to duty and honesty by promotion, but this power is not without limitations. Under Giade, some officers alleged that this power has been confused with the unrestrained powers to award special promotion in addition to promotion to higher rank at the same time – which is seen as a blatant overkill. It is alleged further that not fewer than ninety percent of the beneficiaries of Giade’s special promotions are individuals who have done nothing special at all. That is why some officers are taunting the special promotions showered on Hamza Umar, Ahmed Suleiman Ningi, Sunday Drambi Zirangey, Okafor Olisaemeka, Usman Ali Wadar, Aweda Mathew, Osifuye Femi Johnson, Grace Badung, among others, which catapulted them over three grade levels in four years.
As one unhappy senior officer asked, why will an “officer with a doctorate degree and a product of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies be pegged on GL 14 for well over ten years while officers with first degree and have barely spent three years on GL 14 have been promoted to GL 16 by Giade’s special promotion?” As things stand, some allege that over 95 per cent of the officers on GL15 and GL16, as contained in Giade’s last promotion exercise, are manifestly junior to a good number of officers on GL14 who have been on this level since January 2000, 2001 and 2002, while most of the officers on Grade Level 15 and 16 now were barely due for promotion between 2004, 2005 and now. Those that are long due for promotion but still stagnated on GL14 for no fault of theirs are now being made to report to and carry out orders and instructions from those who are ordinarily their junior. This is breeding discontent in the agency, with an avalanche of petitions before the Presidency.
Another issue which gets some mention in many of the petitions on the agency centres around how men who are supposed to ensure drug couriers and barons get maximum punishment now conspire to help them escape with light sentences.
Source: The Nation Newspaper