Tunde Fagbenle: Jonathan, Oshiomhole, and the case for state police

by Tunde Fagbenle

Some people will argue that we have the most corrupt and evil police in the world. And going by the recent lamentation of Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the “medal” is well earned.

I am imagining the sort of conversation that would have taken place between President Goodluck Jonathan and one of his close aides after the knowledge of (it would be too presumptuous to think our President has time to sit and watch) Channels TV’s exposé on the pathetic state of Nigeria’s 73-year old premier police college, Nigeria Police College, Ikeja, formerly Southern Police College:

Aide: Oga, you been hear wetin I hear, sir? Say Channels TV show plenty photo of the inside of the Ikeja police college?

GEJ:   Wetin be dat? You still dey watch Nigerian TV? Abeg make I rest.

Aide:  But, my Oga, this one is explosive o. They really take camera dey show Nigerians how wowo the place be.  Breeze don blow feather commot for fowl yansh, sir, for this one.

GEJ: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Aide: Good and bad, sir.

GEJ: Look, my friend, I don dey tell you I no like all this ambiguous nonsense. Make up your mindIs it recorded? Oya, show me make I see.

(After viewing it)

Aide: I think someone is out to embarrass this government with this sort of unpalatable show. Our enemies must be behind this.

GEJ: Why would Channels do that? Sebi una say John na our friend?

Aide: Maybe he is being used without him knowing it.

GEJ: We have more enemies within than outside. Sebi I said that before about the Boko Haram thing. It’s an insider job. But we’ll catch them. Everyday na for the thief, one day for the owner. No worry.

Aide:   I have an idea, sir. When in Lagos, on our way to Cote d’Ivoire, why don’t we just jump on them, sir. We will see with our korokoro eyes the nonsense rot they are talking about and catch unawares the oga weyallow Channels.

GEJ:    Good idea. You smart small o! Be like you neva take your tin this morning.

Aide:   Hehehe, my oga!

And so it also came to pass that our President stopped by the NPC on that fateful Friday to “catch the enemies unawares” in their “calculated attempt to damage the image of this government.” In the process, he blew a great PR opportunity the unscheduled visit would have earned him as a “responsive President” instead of the appellation people (sorry, enemies)are calling him, which I refuse to repeat.

Enemies or no enemies, what the President saw with his “korokoro eyes” was enough to evoke a lament: “Why are you treating people like poultry chicken?”

And some media quoted trainees at the college said: “The facilities at the college are so bad that the place is not fit for human habitation; There is no water and we hardly have up to one hour electricity a day since we arrived (I thought our President said on Cable News Network that we now have good electricity?); poor toilet facilities and no beds, we sleep on cardboards on the floor.”

However, to be fair to Mr. President, enemies of the government must really be at work if the rot in the police college, (or the police as a whole, or anything wrong with the country for that matter – corruption, insecurity, bad roads, etc) is laid at the feet of President Jonathan. Like the hydra-headed electricity problem, it predates him by decades! And Goodluck Jonathan did not ask to be President in the first place. It was Obasanjo’s idea! So why blame Jonathan?

Some people will argue that we have the most corrupt and evil police in the world. And going by the recent lamentation of Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the “medal” is well earned.

Oshiomhole called for the immediate dismissal of the Deputy Inspector General in charge of Criminal Investigation Department, Mr. Peter Gana, for allegedly bungling the investigation of the murder of his Principal Secretary, Olaitan Oyerinde, who was murdered on May 4, 2012 at his Benin-City home.

Speaking in Abuja at the launch of the Police Code of Conduct, he charged: “According to the police entry, the gun that was tendered as the one used in killing Oyerinde, was a gun that was recovered from a previous crime scene that was already in police custody. The DIG frustrated the investigation using another senior police officer to thwart investigation. I demand that the DIG and that police officer be dismissed immediately. They are unfit to carry on with their duties. They should not be allowed to continue with police job.”

He added, “I feel terrible that as a governor, I can’t get justice. If I can’t get justice, then an average Nigerian cannot expect justice and we can’t have justice if we can’t tell the truth.”

The truth is the police is an open sore of the country. And there is very little that the current leadership of the police can do. The problem is systemic and structural.

Way back in 1999, I had written in my column (published in my earlier book: Nigeria: This Is My Country, Damn It!) that: “In a country with an unenviable and unbeaten five-year record of being the most corrupt country on earth, the police have become the very epitome of the rottenness of the society. The police have stood for the most ignoble of character in mankind: they lie, they cheat, they steal, they molest, they destroy, they aid and abet the most heinous of crimes that they are employed to combat.

“But the poor police need pity, not condemnation. The country has been overrun by evil, and expecting that the police could be different from the rest of the larger society is unreal and unfair. Our policemen are abjectly ill-equipped, ill-trained, ill-kept, ill-fed, and ill-raised.”

As it stands today, most of the improvement on the equipment and selective encouragement of the police are provided by various state governments either to win those within their domain to their sides or in genuine empathy with the requirement of the police to meeting its policing obligation.

This supports the call for state police. The police is a humongous monstrosity; unmanageable and ineffectual. Like the country itself, our police have to be unbundled for manageability and efficiency.

The youth in search of a president for 2015

We are in interesting times; very interesting times. Following my column of 06/01/13 titled, “2013 is the window to 2015,” it is heartwarming to find the youth, nay Nigerians, responding to the call that: “…Nigerians must not sit and mope about their fate… (They should) identify someone who they can trust to lead the country by his dynamism and his ability to inspire the country by his selflessness and character. And having identified such a person, start from this moment to build a consensus around the person, mobilise, and strategise to give the person a political base with which to make their mandate.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.



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