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The police officers who, by divine grace and the political will of the President in their time, who were found to be qualified and appointed as Inspector-General of Police (IGP), would be a disappointment to God and man if such an IGP does not see the office as a place for service rather than for enriching their pockets. Some see themselves as demigods and lords of the manor.They are very prominent because the Constitution made it so. They are solely in charge of the internal security of the country and the people, so the people know and read about them all the time.
Nigerians have seen different types of IGPs, the good, the bad and the ugly. There are those that are bereft of ideas, same with state commissioners of police, and there are those that are bubbling with ideas. There are those who mark time in office without any tangible activity, while robbers have a field day. This unproductive attitude of some top officers is why SECURITY FILE is taking a second look at the office of past IGPs and their records, in a bid to expose these lapses and encourage those who have excelled so that the upcoming officers can learn and emulate these noble officers.
Such was the story of former IGP Musiliu Smith, whose administration was “killed” due to failure of government policy that boomeranged and when policemen started using their walkie-talkies to insult and abuse their superiors, this disgraceful insubordination filtered to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was not ready to wait for an explanation from the new IGP but rather fired him.
What really happened, one may want to ask? At the time Smith took over from lbrahim Coomassie, the population of the police in Abuja was on the increase and Smith presented an ingenious proposal on an idea that he believed would solve the accommodation problem facing policemen. Unfortunately, the bill for a security trust fund was killed by the House of Representatives. The security trust fund was aimed at deducting 1 per cent of the total national budget of the federation for the Nigeria Police force. This would have taken care of every security need, including accommodation of the police. Rather than help the police, President Obasanjo directed the IGP to allow policemen rent houses while the government made a refund. The government reneged on its promise and policemen believed that their IGP had embezzled their housing fund and thy went haywire and threatened to embark on a nationwide strike.
However, the immediate removal of Smith turned out to be a loss to the federal government and Nigerians, while it became gain to Smith’s state of origin, Lagos. He was welcomed back to Lagos by the then governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, who immediately absorbed him into the state’s administration and accepted Smith’s outstanding security proposal.
Since then, Lagos has not been the same security-wise, as it has become the reference point of what policing a state should be. No wonder every police commissioner and police officer’s dream is serving in the Lagos State command.
Oftentimes, IGPs, instead of concentrating on their job and initiating progressive policies for their domains, would rather scuttle the work of their predecessors as if the office itself is a war zone. To others, the ideas of their predecessors are improved upon and such policies are better pursued in the overall interest of the organisation. That was the situation with the late Etim Inyang, who initiated the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC. At the time it was established, the committee was mainly for the IGP to have input from traditional rulers and local chiefs, who were regarded as having closer access to members of their communities. The committee served the police very vital information on the activities of criminals marauding the communities.
However, today, the story has changed as PCRC has become an elitists congregation where moneybags and unscrupulous characters in the society are glorified with police identity cards that are regarded as ticket to “heaven”. Over the years, instead of the PCRC to complement the activities of the police, it has rather tainted its image. Had the police authorities made better use of the PCRC, the issue of the killer Fulani herdsmen would have been nipped in the bud. The information needed for the security agencies would have been provided by members of the PCRC. It is a pity that such a noble idea has been smothered into oblivion and nothingness.
When Inyang set up the PCRC, one of its objectives was to assist the police at the centre with valuable and credible information. After Inyang exited the office, Ibrahim Attah and Ibrahim Coomassie helped to spread the membership of the committee to all the state capitals, where state commands held sway. At this time, even student union leaders and market women leaders were accredited as members of the committee. When the Maitatsine uprising started, the PCRC, made up of traditional rulers in the North, played a key role by providing information to the security chiefs.
Today, the story has changed. What we have are committee members who use the platform, with the connivance of dubious police officers, to extort money from companies and well-meaning Nigerians. In every situation, there os the positive and the negative, so we can applaud IGPs like M.D. Abubakar, who saw the degradation of an acquired vast area of land along the Abuja-Suleja highway around Dei-Dei by the Tafa Balogun administration and went out of his way to further improve on the barracks where over 3,000 Mobile Police personnel and policemen and women are presently accommodated. The same can be said of the building housing the Special Fraud Unit, which used to be the official residence of late IGP Sunday Adewusi before Attah converted it to a police office for the use of the “failed bank” annex of the Force Criminal and intelligence Department (Alagbon, which later transformed into the Special Fraud Unit (SFU)of the FCID. It is interesting to note that under the leadership of Mr. Sunday Ehindero and Mr. Mike Okiro as IGP, a very industrious commissioner, Mr. Olayinka Balogun, completely changed the architectural design of the building and even added more buildings to further boost the image of the department, which is the police version of the federal organisation known as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and was named after the first inhabitant, Adewusi. Balogun also changed the entire structure of the Special Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba. Such camaraderie and good relationship among leaders helps to upgrade organisations.
To be continued