The Maldives Police Services held an event on Monday night honouring retired Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.
“If the police are once again made to do political work, the leadership will doubtless fail again. The police institution must be larger than the government or any other entity,” Riyaz advised the hundreds of serving officers in attendance.
Riyaz – appointed after the controversial transfer of power in February 2012 – stated that his plans to move into a political career are in order to build trust in this area too.
“The police must not be seen to be an institution that just protects the government. The police is an institution that serves all citizens and implements lawful orders and norms. We have to be answerable to the government. We have to be accountable to the parliament”.
Riyaz stated that, when he had assumed responsibilities of the police commissioner on the night of February 8, 2012, the police leadership of the time had “failed and hence, people’s perceptions of the police had completely changed”.
He asserted that one of his first objectives after assuming the post was to ensure that the police was freed from all external influences and went back to working independently and professionally.
Riyaz further stated that police had remained steadfast in the face of wrongful allegations and perceptions of their work, while emphasizing that during his time as commissioner he had “never made a decision or issued an order with the intention of inflicting harm or harassment to any specific individual”.
“When Amnesty International released a report with false statements against us, I personally made a phone call to their president. In response to every one of these statements, we sent a statement clarifying the truth of the matter.”
“When I first took up the post, I was reluctant to even claim my pay as there was so much murder being committed. However, due to the work done unitedly, god willing we haven’t seen a major death this year,” Riyaz said.
Riyaz spoke in detail about his role in the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.
The retired commissioner – who had at the time been relieved of his duties as a police officer – stated on Monday night that he had gone there on the day with “good intentions because [he] could not bear to sit home and watch the situation the police and soldiers were in”.
He added that he had contacted both the current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz via phone prior to going there.
Stating that he had prioritized national interest above all, Riyaz claimed that he had accepted the post of police commissioner because his country needed him.
“Police were desiring a leadership that would not issue unlawful orders. Many asked me why I was going back to this institution, including my wife. But I decided that I cannot turn my back to the nation at the time it needed me most.”
Riyaz ended his speech by “seeking forgiveness from any police officer of citizen I may have inconvenienced during my time as commissioner of police”.
“Although I am leaving behind life as a police officer and entering politics, I will always defend this institution. There is no institution I can love as much as I do the police.”
He added that Vice Presidentv Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had been the first to advise him to enter the political arena.
Appreciation from the state
“The happiest day that I have come across so far is the day when a new president was elected on November 16, the second round of the presidential election. What made me happiest about it is that we were assured that a government has been established which will not undermine or disrespect important state institutions like the police, the military, the judiciary and other entities,” he said.
“And that this is a government which will protect the religious unity of this nation and ensure that expensive state assets are not sold out to foreign companies,” he continued.
“The fact that Maldivian citizens voted in a Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives government proves that the events that happened on February 7  was not a coup d’etat,” he stated.
Other speakers at the event, including Vice President Jameel, Home Minister Umar Naseer and current Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed commended Riyaz for his work.
Home Minister Umar described Riyaz as an assertive and sharp-minded officer who had brought commendable development to the institution.
Current Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed stated that Riyaz had stood up to defend the police institution even when faced with “immense pressure, criticism and threats against [police officers’] families”.
“Even as police were referred to with various hateful names, and even some officers’ lives were taken, our brother Riyaz was working tirelessly in our defence.”