The Nigeria Police have dismissed 121 of at least 167 police officers who absconded from a counterterrorism training facility to avoid deployment against Boko Haram insurgents last week, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
The 121 officers of the rank-and-file were accused of committing mutiny and desertion, prompting Inspector-General Ibrahim Idris to order their dismissal with immediate effect.
A directive has gone out for several police units where the dismissed officers were attached to immediately retrieve all equipment in their possession and remove them from payrolls, according to a December 26 signal seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
The mass dismissal comes a day after PREMIUM TIMES broke the news of the large-scale desertion, eliciting renewed nationwide concerns about Nigeria’s progress in the Boko Haram war, which is now entering its tenth year.
The 167 officers whom PREMIUM TIMES confirmed as having absconded were amongst the 2,000 sent on a counter-insurgency training at the Nigerian Army Special Forces Training School in Buni Yadi, Yobe State.
Scores of them disappeared after learning that they would be deployed in active combat against Boko Haram in communities where the insurgents are still virulent, as against relatively peaceful settlements like Maiduguri metro area.
They were then declared wanted, amidst fears that they could be harmful because they did not submit the arms, ammunition and other equipment in their possession before fleeing.
The police had in their first reaction on Wednesday night strongly denied that the officers absconded as reported by PREMIUM TIMES, with their spokesperson Jimoh Moshood saying from the Force Headquarters that the 2,000 officers were still in the training centre ready for deployment against Boko Haram terrorists.
The signals detailing the mass dismissal, which were authenticated by officials at the top command, surfaced while the Nigerian Army contradicted the police’s claim that officers did not abscond.
The army said the officers fled the training centre without permission, but added that many of them had been summarily caught and returned to the facility.
It was not immediately clear whether any disciplinary measures had been taken against the remaining officers who absconded.
Mr Moshood did not immediately return PREMIUM TIMES’ requests for comments about the dismissal Thursday night.