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Dismissed Biafra Police officers get retirement letters

Posted by From Lawrence Njoku, Enugu on 2006/05/09 | Views: 788 |

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Dismissed Biafra Police officers get retirement letters


ABOUT 35 years after they were dismissed from the Police Force for allegedly participating in the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970, a set of 1,520 officers of Igbo origin are being issued retirement letters by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

ABOUT 35 years after they were dismissed from the Police Force for allegedly participating in the Nigerian Civil War between 1967 and 1970, a set of 1,520 officers of Igbo origin are being issued retirement letters by the Police Service Commission (PSC).

So far, 1,016 retirement letters have been received by a body representing the former policemen in Enugu. Even the names of deceased officers were included in the letters signed by the secretary to the commission, Dr. E.J.F. Egem-Odey, communicating the approval of their retirement from the Nigeria Police Force with effect from May 29, 2000.

The letters read: "I am pleased to inform you that approval has been given for your retirement from the Nigeria Police Force with effect from May 29, 2000. This is in compliance with the approval in the presidential amnesty granted to civil war affected police officers."

The affected officers are drawn from the nine states of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones. Their appointments were terminated by the Police High Command for fighting on the side of Biafra during the civil war that ended 26 years ago through Decree No. 46 of August 15, 1970 issued by the former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon.

The sacked policemen came from Enugu, Imo, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Rivers, Cross River, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom and Delta States.

The decree empowered the commission to dismiss the officers for their role during the war.

In 1998, apparently feeling that their dismissal was unfair, the affected officers under the aegis of Association of War Affected Police Officers (AWAPO) petitioned the then Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar, asking for pardon and conversion of their dismissal to retirement. The petition did not sail through.

Undeterred, the officers through their chairman, Chief Charles Ikechukwu Machie, then a Superintendent of Police, again wrote to President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999 when he assumed office.

On May 2000 at the first anniversary of his administration, Obasanjo granted amnesty to the officers, converting their dismissal to retirement from that date. He also directed the police authority to pay their entitlements.

Speaking on the development, Machie thanked Obasanjo for the gesture, stressing that he had by this demonstrated a sense of human touch by saving millions of those who would benefit from the gesture.

Machie added that the letters included those of deceased members of the then Biafran Police officers who died soon after the amnesty was granted. He said that collection of the letters by the affected person would commence in Enugu today and runs till the end of the month.

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