The Chairman of the Police Service Commission, Mike Okiro, has alleged that a former protocol officer in the commission, Aaron Kaase, and a journalist he refused to name attempted to blackmail him over an allegation that he defrauded the PSC of N350m.
Okiro, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Monday, stated that the unnamed journalist had demanded a N10m bribe in order not to publish a petition against him (Okiro).
The PSC chairman, who is a former Inspector-General of Police, denied that there was any N350m fraud in the commission though he refused to yield to pressure from journalists to mention the name of the alleged blackmailer.
Last week, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission had interrogated Okiro following a petition by Kaase, in which he accused the PSC chairman of organising a fraudulent training programme for workers of the commission to siphon N350m.
“On April 2, 2015 at 2.20pm, I received a text on my phone, which read, “Afternoon sir, can you kindly call me? I am working on a story over alleged N350m loot in your commission.” It was from a journalist (name withheld).
“When I called him, he stated that there was a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the ICPC alleging that I defrauded the commission of N350m and that the petition was sent to six newspapers to publish. He concluded that he needed to see me urgently; I told him I was not in Abuja and would see him when I return.
“When I came back, he came to my residence and claimed that he had spoken with the editors of the newspapers who had agreed not to publish the story on the grounds that I give them N10m to share. He said that Gen. (Muhammadu) Buhari is coming to fight corruption, once the papers publish any such story against you, he would remove you immediately,” Okiro said on Monday.
Okiro explained that he declined to pay the money, noting that on April 8, the journalist sent his bank account details by text message to pay the money “in case I change my mind to avoid shame and embarrassment.”
According to the retired Inspector General of Police, the journalist, after sending his bank account number, kept pestering him and calling his phone ceaselessly until he told the alleged blackmailer that he would not succumb to his blackmail and threatened to report him to the Nigeria Guild of Editors.
He said that Kaase was later arrested and remanded in Kuje prison for collecting N1m from a man to secure a United States visa when he was the protocol officer. He said Kaase failed to procure the visa probably due to his redeployment to another department in the commission.
Okiro alleged that Kaase had misplaced grudges against him over his redeployment from the protocol unit, where he said the man was executing some shady deals and for his (Okiro’s) refusal to give him money for his wedding.