Nigeria: Panel Under Pressure To Pardon Sacked Zakari Biu

THERE is pressure on the Police Service Commission (PSC) to convert the dismissal of a former Commissioner of Police, Mr. Zakari Biu, to retirement.

But the commission insists that only fresh facts or evidence could sway the agency to review his case, The Nation learnt yesterday.

Also yesterday, it was learnt that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is yet to get any brief from the police recommending Biu’s trial.

Besides, the PSC is still awaiting the report of the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, on the fate of five other policemen from whose custody a Boko Haram co-ordinator, Kabiru Sokoto, escaped in Abaji, near Abuja.

Biu was dismissed from the Police on February 22 over Sokoto’s escape from custody. Sokoto was alleged to be the mastermind of the bombing of a church in Madalla on Christmas Day, last year.

According to a source close to the PSC, there are two conditions which could lead to the review of Biu’s dismissal.

They are:

•If there are fresh facts or evidence placed before the commission; and

•Biu will have to convince the commission beyond reasonable doubt that he had no hand in how Kabiru Sokoto escaped.

“And until Sokoto’s case is eventually determined, it will be difficult to review Biu’s case. In any case, we have not received any formal appeal for the review of the dismissal from Biu. There is no record of such,” the source said.

Asked if the re-arrest of Kabiru Sokoto is insufficient to convert Biu’s dismissal to retirement, the highly-placed source added: “Kabiru Sokoto was re-arrested by the State Security Service and not the former Commissioner of Police or any of his men.”

The PSC is still awaiting the fate of five policemen under whose custody Sokoto escaped in Abaji, near Abuja.

The PSC source added: “The five policemen belong to other ranks in the Force and their trial is within the schedule of the Inspector-General of Police.

“I think they are still being investigated or tried. The PSC has not got a formal report from the IGP on the disciplinary action taken against them. Once we get the report, we will only ratify accordingly. “This is the case because the PSC has not met for a while. We may hold a session in the next one week or two.”

There were several calls for the trial of those involved in Sokoto’s escape, but the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has not received any brief or motion from the Senate on the prosecution of any of those involved in the incident.

Another source added: “Although the Senate passed a resolution on February 21 for the prosecution of those involved in the escape of Sokoto, no file, brief or motion has been passed to the OAGF.

“The AGF cannot issue legal advice or prosecute in a vacuum.”

The Christmas Day bombings at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church killed 44 parishioners and others. The search for the masterminds led to the arrest of Sokoto at Borno Governor’s Lodge in Abuja on January 14.

But barely 48 hours in custody, Sokoto escaped in Abaji in the midst of the custody of policemen who went to search his home. The incident led to the retirement of the former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim.

The National Security Adviser, Gen. Owoye Azazi, also set up an investigative panel, which comprised of senior officials from various arms of the security agencies as well as officials of the Ministry of Police Affairs.

The Senate on February 21 recommended Biu’s trial by a court. The PSC dismissed Biu on February 22.

Sokoto was re-arrested by the SSS in Taraba State – a development which led to the demand for the review of Biu’s dismissal.

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