As a crime/security reporter, one frequently comes in close contact with security agents from all the security services across the country. Such meetings affect all the levels and cadre of security. Oftentimes, these encounters develop into deep friendships that could cross the line of professionalism into family bonds. At times, such friendships become more personalised for mutual benefit. It was on one of such reportorial outings in 1990 that this writer met four tough and intelligent police investigators at the police investigation hub, popularly known as Alagbon, Lagos.
Its notoriety was not for any bad purpose but because it had, over the years, accommodated top suspects like Afrobeat musician, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and many other top politicians and fraudsters in the country. Interestingly, the phrase, Four-One-Nine, “419,” which is a section in the Criminal Code, was coined in Alagbon, under the headship of DIG Achibong Nkana. Alagbon was then a beehive of several police investigations. In fact, it was a repository of investigative brains that could equal Scotland Yard of London.
So, the enclave was dreaded by everyone in Nigerian society. Alagbon was made more popular by no-nonsense operatives in the police such as Parry Osayande, Marvel Akpoyibo, Zakari Biu and Austin Iwar, among others (the list was endless). Same with the immigrations service, which was situated a short distance away from the police enclave.
However, due to its operational successes, reporters thronged Alagbon to extract news from some of the security personnel and also from either press statements or briefings from the deputy inspector-general of police.
Then, media houses only sent their best hands on investigative reporting to cover Alagbon. Such reporters were hard nuts, objective and fearless. It was on one of such outings that I waqlked into a ground floor, an office accommodating four crack investigative police officers attached to the Interpol section of the Criminal Investigation Department, under Mrs. Abimbola Jolade Ojomo, who was the commissioner of police in charge but later rose to be the DIG in charge of FCID before she retired, while Mr. Hafiz Ringim, an assistant commissioner, was her deputy, but later rose to be appointed the 16th IGP.
Officers like Nuhu Ribadu, who later became the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Tunde Ogunshakin, who was unceremoniously retired along with 20 other top police officers to pave way for the appointment of lbrahim ldris as the 19th IGP, served under these gallant officers. The only lady police officer among them was Mrs. Peace lbekwe Hamdala (daughter of the first lgbo police commissioner), who is presently the DIG in charge of FCID, which includes Alagbon. The last but not the least was Adamu Mohammed, popularly known among his peers as Adamu Lafia, who, incidentally, is the 20th IGP, though in an acting capacity. Many years back, I had written a column, titled, “The new generation officers.”
There were many names listed in that write-up and, prophetically, many have attained enviable heights in their police career. Today, all eyes are on the amiable, humble, gentle and soft-spoken police officer with a different swagger and vision, a linguist whose fluency in French, coupled with his astute police professionalism, pushed him to be the Vice President of Interpol. As the head of police peacekeeping operations, he single-handedly upgraded the section to an enviable status, though with the approval and assistance of the IGP. The jubilation that filled the air after his appointment meant a lot in police circles. Surely, the office of the IGP is not child’s play neither is it for people who are visionless. Nor is the office for those who would look the other way when innocent Nigerians are being trampled upon by irate, armed policemen or hoodlums, not even at the point where justice is denied them on flimsy excuses.
It is for officers with sterner stuff who can exhibit milk of human kindness. An IGP who would call a spade a spade at all times, and roundly provide safety for all as stipulated by the Constitution is what Nigeria needs. Adamu, to all intents and purposes, meets the yearning of Nigerians. A good mixer who has already demonstrated this by his inner caucus cabinet, unlike when his predecessor was appointed but promptly left the job and started chasing shadows, exhibiting buried animosity that derailed his focus ab initio. It is on record that any IGP that goes witch-hunting his predecessor always loses focus, not when there is gross financial violation established. Such should be made to face the law. What the new police helmsman should be careful of is the political banana peels littered everywhere. The same politicians that are shouting “hosanna” today would be the same that would shout “crucify him” and “remove him,” if things go wrong. Lessons abound in the police records of how past police leaders came out unscratched during and after elections. His appointment is like being presented with a desirable gift for keeps and only for the giver to be engulfed in a battle and, as the referee, on whose part would you be if the giver is falling? Will sympathy tilt towards the giver of the gift or will you stand with justice? Not until the gladiators enter the ring can Nigerians truely say, “Indeed, a Daniel has come to judgement.” As a follower of trends in the police, I strongly belief that the lost glory of the Nigeria Police would, under the leadership of Adamu Mohammed, be restored because he is a square peg fitly appointed to cover a square hole.
Obeying presidential order
The first time Nigerians would hear that President Muhammadu Buhari’s order was religiously obeyed by an appointee was on January 15, 2019, during a Federal Executive Council meeting, when it was disclosed that a presidential order was obeyed by the Nigeria Immigrations Service, by extending the lifespan of the international passport from five to 10 years. What a joyful news.
However, on the other hand, in 2018, Nigerians heard from the President how a police boss flagrantly disobeyed his order when he directed him to proceed to Benue State and ensure that the mindless killing of innocent Nigerians in the state by herdsmen should stop. Instead, lbrahim ldris, the former police boss, ignored the order and proceeded to Nasarawa State. In the two instances, Nigerians would always appreciate the Comptroller-General of Immigrations, Mr. Muhammad Babandede, for obeying his Commander-in-Chief and, by so doing, removing stress and saving precious time.
While the former police boss, Idris, would forever be remembered as the man who looked the other way when innocent Nigerians were being killed, Babandede has left a good legacy. Idris left a bad legacy. That is the lesson of disobedience that could only emanate from gross incompetence.