By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor & Esther Onyegbula
THE pronouncement of Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, as the new Inspector-General of police in January 25, 2012, was heralded with different reactions. Some positive, some negative.
It came after the inglorious removal of Hafiz Ringim whose fall from the power vortex was seemingly prolonged by series of operational gaffes and gaping security challenges.
The general opinion was that Ringim may have swum into career luck whilst he served as Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State Command. He was there when Chief Diepreye Alamieyesigha, was impeached as the governor.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who was then his deputy was subsequently sworn in as the governor in December 2005. That may be where they stuck the bond that catapulted him into the enviable position of the country’s number one policeman.
On board: The case of MD Abubakar was totally different. He came on saddle with uproarious quantum of meritorious achievements. As a tested operational guru, he had traversed the length and breath of the country as both a low ranked policeman and a superior officer. Many respondents, after his name was announced, posited that he has personality pride which will, definitely, not allow him swoon in corrupt practices. The only albatross which nearly stopped him from occupying the exalted position of an IGP was when he served as the Commissioner of Police in Plateau state and the attendant ethno-religious crisis that broke out then. His role as an unbiased umpire was put to acid test and roundly condemned by, especially, some indigenes of the state.
Repositioning: However, he was able to surmount the attendant criticisms and succeeded in taking over as the 16th indigenous Inspector-General of Police in Nigeria. As soon as he picked up the mantle of leadership of the force, he worked tirelessly, like a trojan horse, to reposition the force and restore public confidence with the various reforms he embarked upon. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that he has had his fair share of achievements, challenges and failures, just like his predecessors. This is more so when it is glaring that the organizational structure, institutional culture, legal and normative frameworks governing the Nigeria police, promote partisanship, corruption and human rights abuses; it is almost an impossible task to perform professionally and effectively. Under this prevailing circumstance, except the man at the helm of affairs in the force decides to rock the boat, get into trouble water or make history, otherwise, he can make no much difference in a perverse and rotten system. This becomes more apposite when it is well known that the performance or otherwise of any Inspector-General of Police does not depend so much on the individual disposition or the personality of the appointee as it is on the system. The institutional structures in place as well as the political interest and ideology of the regime or government in power play pivotal role in this.
Successes: Part of his success is the reprieve he gave to Nigerian road users especially, between January 2012 and reasonable part of 2013, when he dislodged over 3,500 police roadblocks across the country. Before the dislodgement, thousands of innocent Nigerians were killed as a result of extortion at roadblocks and other related police abuses. Billions of naira were also extorted from innocent Nigerian road users. For instance, between 2009 and December 2011, over N53billion was allegedly extorted by Policemen at roadblocks from Nigerian road users. Commendably, retired IGP Mohammed D. Abubakar, was able to sustain the dislodgement. Though there were pockets of abuses, he ensured that offenders were seriously punished. To his credit, many innocent lives were saved and billions of naira that would have been extorted saved as well.
Other largesses: He advocated a minimum wage of N50, 000 for police constables in the force because he believed that it will go a long way to boost their morale and promote efficiency. He made a proposal to the federal government on serious representation for the actualization of a new salary structure for members of the force. Apart from that, other welfare packages like housing, montage policy and efficient cooperative society, were restructured to ensure that every policeman benefits from the scheme which started with the 5000 housing unit in Abuja. The new police hospital in Ibadan, Oyo state, the new Force Insurance building and transit quarters in Abuja which was constructed and furnished by him, the police mini-hall of fame, the gigantic and eye-popping edifice housing the Force Criminal Investigations Department at Area 10, Abuja, are some of the innumerable legacies he bequeathed to the force within such a short time.
Aesthetics: In terms of aesthetics, it is on record that the regime of Muhammed Abubaker revolutionized the appearance of both the police personae and infractures all over the country. His regime turned virtually all police stations into marvels as officers and men competed to outshine each other in making their offices and stations spectacles to behold. It was during his era that the appearance of members of the force turned into bold efforts with their new belts, to the chagrin of fashion designers. His exemplary style manifested more glaringly at the Force Headquarters in Abuja where he turned the building into a magnificent edifice. Members of the force learnt how to protect their stations and public buildings.
Intelligence: In the area of intelligence, about 160000 policemen were sent for training while 10,000 were trained in detective training. It was during his tenure that officers that were promoted into the rank of Assistant Inspectors-General of police went for a two- week management training in Lagos- the very first. In the area of equipment, he made judicious use of the meager resources that trickled from the Federal government and went to a great extent towards galvanizing both state governments, viable agencies and parastatals to help and equip the force. This manifested in the large number of vehicles provided for members of the force during this era. In this regard, more than 300 patrol vehicles were deployed to major roads across the country for effective policing and safety of the people on the highways.
Intimidation and harrasment:In the area of intimidation and harassment of innocent Nigerians including Journalists, MD, as he is popularly called, ensured that erring officers were given commensurate punishment.
Critiques: His critics will definitely point fingers at police inability to contain internal security challenges ravaging Nigeria, inability to tame high incidences of unlawful killings including extra judicial executions or killings by his officers and men as well as torture particularly, during criminal investigations and detention of those accused of being in conflict with the criminal law. There is also the vexatious issue of curtailing corruption and other related forms of police abuses.
It is also a generally held view that his noble efforts at given the seemingly ICT illiterate force a boost suffered major drawbacks as a result of paucity of funds. It is obvious that where ICT policing and preventive policing becomes absent in the curriculum of a police force, torture, unlawful killings, ape-like intelligence quotient and graft, rule its general policing and criminal investigation and trial managements. And where these lapses become pronounced, society which it polices, degenerates from street or common crimes to group crimes such as ethno-religious group insurgencies ravaging the country. That may account for the excesses of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents in Nigeria today.
Nevertheless, feelers from within the force speak of reasonable discontentment. This is not unconnected with some unfavorable withdrawals from their salaries, a case the authorities made fruitless efforts to defend to no avail.
However, it is crystal clear that when the history of the Nigeria Police Force would be told, Muhamed Dahiru Abubakar, must have a golden place in the hall of fame. One can confidently assert that, he came, he saw and he nearly succeeded in turning the force into an eldorado. Posterity must definitely credit him with high marks.
File; MD Abubakar