Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity Reuben Abati said his boss did not order the sacking of top police officers.
Abati, in a statement yesterday, described news headlines suggesting that the order was given at the swearing-in of the new chairman and members of the Police Service Commission on Wednesday as a misrepresentation of the president's remarks.
Abati noted that the presidency had granted access to all media organizations to reporting its activities and in return expected a much higher standard of professionalism and accuracy than that being exhibited by sections of the media.
"The thrust of the president's remarks was that the new chairman and members of the Police Service Commission should strive to effectively discharge their statutory function of enhancing discipline and efficiency in the service by ensuring that performance, competence and merit are the primary criteria for career progression in the police... Jonathan was certainly not giving fresh orders or rewriting the rules when he said: 'People who are promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Police and above must merit the rank. If you don't merit the rank, you should be retired from the service,'" Abati said.
President Jonathan said during the inauguration thus: "And that is one area I believe you will go into. People who are promoted to assistant police commissioner and above must merit the rank. If you don't merit the rank you should be retired from the service because it is better for you not to have enough manpower than for you to have viruses and all kinds of characters in the police force.
"When the Police Headquarters was bombed, some people came to me and say Mr. President, sack all police officers working in that place from Assistant Commissioner of Police and above. I did not sack any because of that incident, but that was the advice I got."
But Abati said that: "As all police officers and their counterparts in the Armed Forces and security agencies know, the president's words were fully in line with existing rules and regulations guiding career progression in the services.
The import of President Jonathan's comments was that the new Police Service Commission and other bodies charged with overseeing the career progression of officers and other personnel in the police and security agencies should work to achieve greater competence levels in the services by upholding extant regulations without fear or discrimination... Those guilty of deliberately distorting or twisting the president's words to promote sectional agenda and fan the embers of discord in the polity should desist from doing so," he said.