by Adedayo Ademuwagun
The DPO of the police division in Ikotun is a member of the Synagogue church, an inside source at the division has revealed to this journalist.
The Synagogue church is under the Ikotun police division.
According to the source, DPO Haruna 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.
The source is a police officer at the division and is well known to this journalist.
The source says about the DPO, “He was transferred to our division last year. But even before then, he’d probably been a member of the church. I believe that TB Joshua worked his transfer to Ikotun.
“Things have changed considerably in our dealings with his church since he arrived. For example, we now have more men posted there every week on special duty. We used to have men there on certain days of the week under the former DPO, but we now have more officers sent there now.
“When we go there on special duty to supervise traffic and watch the place during church services, the church pays every one of us for the day.”
Section 354 of the Nigeria Police Act and Regulations states that “a police officer may not receive presents (other than gifts from close personal friends or relatives) whether in the shape of money, goods, free passages or other personal benefits, and may not give such presents.”
Section 358 also states, “A police officer may not, except with the prior permission of the Inspector-General, accept entertainment of any kind from any association with which he is in contact by reason of his official duties.”
But Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Tunde Gbolarunmi says, “It’s actually permissible for the police to provide security to private organisations and individuals on request, and for a fee. In fact, if you’re having a ceremony in your house and you’d like police to provide security, you can contact the police in your area and they’ll do it for a fee. Part of the money normally should go to the Police Reward Fund and part to the officers who went on the duty. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
The police source knows more about the DPO and his activities in relation to his church and the police division he heads. He says, “[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 church people have little respect for us at the Ikotun division, including our DPO. Whenever the DPO is in the church, they order him around like their servant [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.”
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. He personally observed that Alaba failed to take action when the church people locked out journalists and prevented government emergency workers from going in to work. The police officers practically let the church workers do this, while Alaba moved up and down the road taking instructions from the church people.
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.”
ACP Gbolarunmi says, “If this DPO has truly done this, 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.”
Synagogue regularly gives to the Ikotun division. On one visit to the church after the building collapse, this journalist saw 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.
The source explains more, “Every year end for instance, 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 control, even beyond the division and has connections in high places in the police force. That’s the thing.”
ACP Gbolarunmi says, “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.”
How will DPO Alaba react to this matter? Will the police look into the case and take appropriate action? Are there individuals and private organisations in this country who give to the police and use this to subvert the police in their favour?
The investigation continues.