It was heartwarming to hear comments from Lagos Police Commissioner Hakeem Odumosu about the excesses of his men in Lagos last week. He was reacting to the brutality of the police officers sent to disrupt the Independence Day protest organized by the Coalition for Revolution (CORE). The RevolutionNow protest that was to be held in the main cities of the country was going to be a massive action against bad governance in the country. In Ojota, an exaggerated police officer left a photojournalist covering the protest bleeding after breaking his head with a baton. CP Odumosu made no secret of his displeasure at the incident. He not only condemned the action, but also assured that the policeman will face disciplinary action and also promised to pay the bills for treating the abused journalist. He called the police action an irresponsible act. Woof! Just listen to him, “The man who was doing his legal duty and the police assaulted him, we’ll take care of that. Once again, sorry for that. But you know me, I don’t tolerate all these things and I never will. There isn’t. reason to justify what the police did. What they did was assault, brutality and incivility. I will not cover that. Rest assured that you will face disciplinary action. ” OMG! How did you feel reading those words? Sound like your typical Nigerian police officer? In the past, while beating and arresting innocent protesters, you will hear that it was an order from above or an action to stop criminals, looters, illegal assemblies or actions against the enemies of democracy. Or, in the best case scenario, you won’t get any feedback.
As I read that report, I remembered how I also felt earlier in the year as I watched Deputy Inspector General of Police, AIG Ahmed Iliyasu from Zone 2 Command, Onikan parading the killers of a prominent businessman, Chief Ignatius Odunukwe in Lagos. The AIG embraced the late Chief Odunukwe’s younger brother, comforting him and reminding him that he promised (the family) from the start that he will do everything he can to see that the sudden disappearance of the Anambra-born owner of the Fireman generators is solved. As I watched that clip, I struggled to hold back tears. Once again I was proud to be Nigerian. I saw in Ahmed Iliyasu; Former Kano State Police Commissioner and United Nations Director of Investigation
a dedicated, gallant, patriotic, caring, honest, God-fearing and detribalized Nigerian. I must say that I have never seen that level of love shown by a security officer in public before. And it was like a balm of selection for some of us who knew IG Odunukwe in person. We lived in the same closure in Anthony Village when I was with Banex Group in the late 90’s. And like my old boss Sir Victor Mbanisi, he was from Oraukwu City in the Idenmili local government of Anambra State. Yes, there are many from that small town: young, smart, hard-working, hard-working and very rich. From them I learn entrepreneurship, hard work and dedication. A strong desire to be successful infects you when you get in touch with these guys. Some of them did not have the opportunity for a formal education while growing up, but today they lead and govern in their business areas. Even his partners abroad always recognize, respect and envy his cunning and dedication. I congratulate AIG Iliyasu for comforting us by arresting the butchers of our beloved IG.
Look at the newly concluded Edo state gubernatorial election, the police and electoral body proved that they can always deliver if given the right environment and necessary support. The report said that more than 30,000 police and officers were dispatched to the state that day. Helicopters, boats and other equipment were also dispatched to ensure the smooth running of the exercise. They were given a free hand to operate. And what was the result? The desire of the people prevailed. The election was free and fair; with minor incidents. In fact, it was a pleasant surprise because everyone expected maximum violence. This is the kind of result you get when you allow institutions to function. People have been congratulating the candidates and their sponsors, but I think the first people to appreciate are President Buhari, Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu and the President of INEC who
refused to interfere with exercise. Even when his party was involved, the president decided to be neutral and the other bodies were forced to align themselves, allowing for a free and credible exercise. I don’t want to worry about the other political interpretations that are suggested. The lesson here is that we can get it right if we choose to. We can make our institutions and processes work as they do elsewhere. Certain. In the past, it would have taken simple instruction from “above” or their body languages for politicians to manipulate hell in elections with the full protection and collusion of the security agencies and the electoral commission. Yes, no election can be rigged without the full support of the security men. And in Nigeria they will do it with impunity, with pride and they will ask you to go to court and challenge it. I mean the same court that appointed and paid the judges. You already know the stories of some of those electoral petitions.
This has been our downfall: weak institutions, corrupt and unpatriotic leadership, unprofessional armed forces and police, brave judges and electoral referees. But if these critical institutions are strengthened, I believe that history will change forever. The Nigerian police force under the current leadership has been trying to rediscover itself and redeem its image. It must be said that the police have had a positive performance of late by continuing to stop crimes and track criminals, especially armed robbers and kidnappers. We must encourage them to do better by giving them what they need to work: quality training and retraining, exposing them to other decent environments and exchange programs. We must properly and adequately equip them with modern tools, especially communication, tracking and forensic devices, better remuneration and cooperation from citizens. If they have everything and we don’t give them the information they need, they won’t accomplish much. We can improve this by installing security cameras in our homes, offices, streets, and public places. This greatly facilitates your work and your investigations. Then, on the part of the management, they must do everything possible to completely eliminate those corrupt men and women who give a bad name to the force and also stop those activities that cause the public to detect and doubt them. Yes, we can have a whole new police force. We can create a new image for you through our collective actions. It’s possible. I wish all of our policemen could be like Ahmed Iliyasu and Hakeem Odumosu, not only serving with integrity but also with compassion and pride.
Agbo is the author of Never Again !, Move Forward, Power of Sacrifice, Power of Midnight Prayer books / audiobooks.