by Adedayo Ademuwagun
The DPO at Ikotun division, Haruna Alaba, has reacted about his links to the Synagogue church.
Alaba confirmed to the coroner at the ongoing inquest in a Lagos court that he’s a member of the church. Then he told YNaija on the phone that it’s irrelevant, and rejected any claim that he or the policemen under his command have been compromised in their dealings with his church.
He said, “My faith has nothing to do with my work. I do what I have to do. I’m a member of Synagogue, but police is not the only one Synagogue gives to. It gives to other people and organisations. So why is it a problem that it gives to the police? I was baptised in Christ Embassy. When I was serving in the north I used to go to Redeemed. So it’s not just Synagogue that I’ve been involved with while practising my faith. I don’t see why you’re singling out Synagogue. There are Muslims in the police who practise their faith without questioning. So you’re not supposed to question me for practising my faith.”
Meanwhile, a Synagogue spokesman flew into a rage when confronted by YNaija on the sidelines of the ongoing inquest in court. He challenged, “Why are you so interested in knowing whether the man is a member or not? You heard him say so during the questioning inside the court. So why are you looking into this area and not looking into other areas? You’re biased. Be careful with the way you talk to me.”
Last week, an inside source at the Ikotun division exclusively revealed to YNaija that DPO Alaba is a staunch, long time member of the church and may have compromised in his duties and responsibilities to the police in favour of his church. Before this revelation, virtually no one, apart from church members and Ikotun policemen, knew about the DPO’s link to the church.
We were told, “Things have changed considerably in our dealings with his church since he was transferred here.
“[Alaba] is effectively the church’s joint chief security officer. He splits his day between the Synagogue and the Ikotun police station. If he spends a few hours here, he leaves the station to the station officer and goes to spend a few hours at Synagogue. He is part DPO, part Synagogue security officer. He’s rooted to that church, maybe because TB Joshua has done certain things for him in the past and that’s why it’s affecting his work. Some of us think the church pays him, but he denies this.”
The source disclosed that the church gives the officers money after regular “special duty” assignments at the church. But Sections 354 and 358 of the Nigeria Police Act and Regulations forbid officers from collecting money during official duty, apparently to preserve the police’s integrity and authority.
One journalist at a TV station in Lagos said he was “awestruck” to find out about this now.
This journalist was at the church the day after the building collapse, and he was attacked by the church people while the Ikotun police officers at the scene looked on quietly. There were many policemen and police cars parked in. Most of the cars had printed on them, “Donated by Emmanuel TV”.
Emmanuel TV is the Synagogue’s media outlet.
On that day, Alaba failed to take action when the church people locked out journalists and prevented authorised emergency workers from going in to work. The police officers practically let the church people do this, while Alaba moved up and down the road taking instructions from the church people.
“Synagogue regularly gives to our station,” explained the source. “Every year end he sends gifts and money to us at the station. Last Christmas, he gave us hundreds of thousands of nairas and bags of rice to share.
“The church workers look down on the police because they know their church gives to us and our police station on a regular basis and their prophet wields a lot of influence. I have to admit that this weakens our power, such that there’s a limit to what we can do when something concerns Synagogue. But honestly, this thing has been going on even before Alaba came. The church has much influence, even beyond the division, and has connections in high places in the police force.
“The church people have little respect for us at the Ikotun division, including our DPO. Whenever the DPO is in the church, they often order him around [This journalist personally saw this happen on one occasion.] He doesn’t have a say on the premises. He simply does what his church says. So even we officers have no real power on their premises.”
Section 353 of the Nigeria Police Act and Regulations says that “a police officer shall not conduct himself in such a manner as to bring his private interests into conflict with his public duties or in such manner as is likely to cause a suspicion in the mind of any reasonable person that he has — allowed his private interests to come into conflict with his public duties.”
Section 340 also says a police officer is required to develop the attributes of “integrity, in refusing to allow religious, racial, political or personal feelings, or other considerations to influence him in the execution of his duties.”
Assistant Commissioner of Police Tunde Gbolarunmi has given his opinion about this issue. He told YNaija, “If this DPO has truly done those things, then that’s improper. He should be indicted for abdicating his duties in the interest of the church, and if it is found that the officers have been compromised because of what the church gives them, that will be unacceptable. The DPO could be transferred and the Inspector General could look into the affairs of that division. The police would take action.
“It’s okay for an individual or organisation to donate to the police to help the police discharge their duties more effectively. The government alone cannot do it. Individuals, organisations and communities need to contribute. However, even when the police receives from a patron, they still have to do their work dispassionately and without letting it subvert their authority.”
The police hasn’t officially looked into this matter.
This case is not just about police and Synagogue relations. The bigger picture is that there are likely individuals and private organisations in this country who give to the police and use this to subvert the police in their favour.