By Gabriel Inoghalase
RETIRED Commissioner of Police, Sunday Aghedo, was born in Benin City and was educated at Edo College, Benin City and Government College; Ughelli for the Higher School Certificate (HSC).
He bagged a Bachelor’s in Geography from the University of Lagos in 1970 and enlisted in the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet ASP in 1973. Aghedo was a Commissioner of Police in different States including Osun State, where he handled the Ife/Modakeke crisis, and Lagos State, where he left under controversial circumstances.
He was later elevated to Assistant Inspector-General of Police in 2000. He retired from the force in 2005. A very sound officer, Aghedo was well respected and adored in the force during his days
Appraisal Of The Police From 1960
The police exist primarily to promote harmony and security of life and property in human society. It is the organ of government charged with the responsibility of maintenance of law and order, public safety and security.
When I was growing up in Benin City, I did not know much about the Nigeria Police Force. As at 1960, I was in the lower form in Edo College. The police I saw and knew then was the local government police that had a station close to Urhokpota Hall. They were seen patrolling by foot and on bicycles.
From 1960 to 1966, the police performed creditably in the maintenance of law and order, public safety and security.
The logistics and equipment available to them then seemed adequate for their internal security duties and also police officers were in Congo along with the Nigerian army on United Nations peace keeping activities. From 1967 to 1979 they have also been engaged in internal security duties.
Recall that the military was in government, so it was policing in a military dispensation as distinct from a democratic setting. A civil war was fought and ended with attendant socio-economic and security problems. Arms and ammunitions went to the wrong hands and so, we started experiencing more violent crimes especially armed robberies.
The police were now faced with more challenges in crime prevention and detection. An enduring crime prevention and detection strategies had to be evolved by the police high command to stem the tide and reduce such crimes. The police had successes and failures within the limits of available resources.
Assessment of IGPs
I guess you are talking about IGPs from 1960 to 2005 when I bowed out of the Force meritoriously. From when I was appointed as a Cadet ASP in 1973 to 2005 when I retired voluntarily after 33 years in service, I served under many IGPs who, to me, made a mark in the Force.
They are Alhaji Kam Salem of blessed memory who made the Cadet ASP scheme of which I am a beneficiary possible, Alhaji M.D Yusuf, Alhaji Adamu Suleiman, Chief Sunday Adewusi, Chief Etim Inyang, Alhaji Mohammed Gambo-Jimeta, Alhaji Aliyu Attah, Ahaji Ibrahim Coomassie, Alhaji M.A.K. Smith, Alhaji Tafa Bayo Balogun and Mr Sunday Ehindero.
For me, I cannot easily forget the positive impact generally and particularly, of welfare of police officers during the tenure of Alhaji Kam Salem, M.D Yusuf, Adamu Suleiman, Chief Sunday Adewusi, Aliyu Attah, Ibrahim Coomassie and Tafa Bayo Balogun. That is my judgement, others may think otherwise.
Activities Of Government, Ministry Of Police Affairs And Police Service Commission
The Nigeria Police Force was established by law and is in Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution. The Ministry of Police Affairs is the supervising ministry. The Honourable Minister of Police Affairs is the arrow-head in the activities of the Ministry.
The Inspector General of Police must relate properly with the Ministry for the police to achieve the purpose of which it was established. The Minister of Police Affairs gives such lawful directions with respect to the maintenance and security of public safety and public order to the Inspector General of Police as set out in Section 215(3) of the 1999 Constitution.
The Police Service Commission is established by law in the Third Schedule, Part 1 M of the Constitution. The PSC has administrative control over the police in terms of appointment, enlistment, promotion of police officers from the least constable to the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Flowing from the above is the disciplinary control which may involve dismissal and or other forms of punishment to police officers whose conduct is brought to the knowledge of the Commission by the Inspector General of Police. The PSC has no implicit business with the operational control of the police.
The Inspector General of Police by Section 215(2) of the 1999 Constitution has operational control of the police. They have all lived to their expectations, but there is still room for improvement. We are all mortals and liable to mistakes in the course of our daily activities. What we need do is to learn from the past and prepare for a more intelligible future.
Politicisation And Polarisation Of The Force
I do not share that view of politicisation and polarisation of police with regards to the appointment of the Inspector General of Police. You know Nigerians raise a lot of dust when things do not go their own way. The appointment of IGPs is not a ballot box affair. Making an Assistant Inspector General of Police the IGP does not amount to politicisation and polarisation. There are precedents.
The due process is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria acting on the advice of the Nigeria Police Council according to Section 215 (1) of the Constitution.
This section also adds that he can appoint the IGP from among serving members of the police. On a humorous note, he can also pick from the lower cadres of the NPF as they are all serving members. He would not pick from the lower cadres because they do not have the managerial abilities required for that serious position. A former AIG has become the new IGP.
It is perfectly in order and is consistent with the provisions of the law. What happens to those senior to him depends on government. If government still needs their services they will be retained.
The new IGP Hafiz Ringim is experienced and tested. I congratulate him and wish him well.
What Really Went Wrong In Your Case?
In what sense? Is it how I left Lagos in 1999 unceremoniously as CP command or why I left the service in 2005 or, because I was not appointed DIG in 2002 when some officers were picked on the so called zonal basis?
First, I had to retire voluntarily and meritoriously in December 2005, because I had attained the retirement age, in line with public service regulations. Second, I left Lagos State in August 1999 in controversial circumstances.
It is on record that I was posted to Lagos State in October 1998 from Osun State where I was CP from September 1996 to 2 October 1998. I handled the Ife-Modakeke crisis with distinction.
It was when the indefatigable, forthright and a man that posses an administrative genius which defies analysis was the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim A. Coomassie (now Sardauna of Katsina).
When I assumed duty in Lagos in 1998 a fine soldier and gentleman officer, Brigadier Buba Marwa was the Military Administrator of Lagos State. We worked together without rancour to the extent that Lagos State was a haven and home to investors. On 29 May 1999 Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu became Governor of Lagos State. In area of crime prevention and detection, Lagos State Police Command under my leadership was on top of its job.
There are statistics to justify my assertion. However, the relationship between the Governor and I seemed frosty, because of certain security issues I do not intend to go into.
The incident that broke the camel’s back was the Governor’s statement on print and electronic media that the security situation in Lagos was deplorable in spite of the fact that he, as Governor of Lagos State, was giving N100 million to the CP to run security in the State. At first, I took it as a mere joke and political statement.
The Police High Command in Abuja neither asked for my comments nor was I investigated. it was a serious indictment not only of the CP Lagos but the entire NPF.
Days rolled by until it dawned on me when members of the respectable Nigeria press thronged my office in Ikeja to ask for my comments on this serious allegation which portrayed me in bad light. I appealed to them to give me sometime so as to resolve the issue with my boss in Abuja and my accuser.
I refrained from talking to the press on the issue so that I will not join issues with the Governor, a situation I considered not healthy for the security of the State. I had no other option, as the pressure on me from the press was increasing, than to call a press conference and let the world know my own side of the story.
The press conference gave me psychological succour. I dismissed the Governor’s statement as false. It was a situation of calling a dog a bad name to hang it. A couple of days later, I was posted out of Lagos State Command to Benue State Command where I also a made a mark. Whether my posting out of Lagos was a routine or sheer coincidence, is not important. What is important to me is that I left the service with a clean slate, to God be the glory.
Third, on the issue of DIG, in 2002, my good brother, friend and course mate, Alhaji Tafa Balogun, became the Inspector General of Police. I depose in clear and unequivocal terms that Tafa Balogun had no hand in my not been made DIG.
His appointment, and those of the DIGs came when he was still in Kano as AIG Zone 1. I was on course at the National Defence College, Abuja in 2002 when the appointment of DIG was announced.
I was a substantive Assistant Inspector General of Police. When the list was released, I found out it was done on geo-political basis. In a zone like the North Central, the officer elevated was a Commissioner of Police and the most senior in the zone. In the North West, two officers who were AIGs were elevated.
From the South-West an AIG became DIG. In the South-East, an AIG became DIG. In the North East, a CP was also elevated. From the South South which I belong, the rule was not followed. Michael Okiro, a CP was elevated in preference to me, and two other AIGs from this zone. I was the most senior officer from the zone as at that time, followed by late Willie Ehikhamentalor and CP Umoh.
Only Chief Simon Okeke, the then Chairman of the Police Service Commission knows what transpired. What was good for the goose was not good for the gander in this case. I have no ill-feelings at all against those who denied me this right.
It is a good radiance for the police. It is all about participatory policing with communities. For me, it is an old wine in a new bottle. In many parts of the country, we have policing through the participation of registered vigilante groups under the close watch of the local police. Olode(night/day guards) in the old Western Region readily comes to mind.
This is a more modern concept.
Problems Of The Police And The Way Forward
The problems of the police are numerous. To talk about them can take a whole day, even weeks and months. I will enumerate a few of them – manpower for effective policing, vehicles, communication equipment, scientific tools for investigation/intelligence gathering and crowd control, accommodation, poor road networks and electricity.
These impact negatively on police patrols and communication. Weakness in other internal security outfits affects the police. The ability of the police to manage internal security properly would depend on co-operation it gets from Immigration and Customs Services.
Those charged with monitoring the borders and ports need to be fully equipped to prevent inter-border banditry and influx of arms and am munitions into the country. Another problem is the poor image of the Police which is a mirrored image of the Nigerian society.
Panacea For Effective Policing
For effective management of internal security, there is the need to improve the funding of the police, training and re-training of police officers, public enlightenment, re-orientation and repositioning of the police. Nigerians should know that they get the police they deserve.
How do Nigerian police officers excel in United Nations operations abroad? Yet, at home, they are despised, humiliated, dehumanised and ostracised. As I have always said, if we establish one Naira police, we will get one Naira service.