Mr. David Oluwafemi Omojola, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), was called to the bar at 62. Omojola, in this interview, speaks on how it happened. He also speaks on his time in the police.
By Olamilekan Bilesanmi
How do you feel being called to the bar at this time?
I have all along cherished law as a profession but my enlistment in the police reinforced this desire. It is a dream come through and something I desired so much, but due to the ups and downs in my career, I was unable to finish it on time. I believe so much in the adage which says ‘it is better late than never’.
So you planned from the outset to practice as a lawyer.
Once you are called to the bar, the purpose is for you to practice to advance the cause of justice. I may not be as active as I would love to be, but then it is still my desire to go to court. I am aware that we have very senior members of the bar who are older than me and still go to court. During our internship, I saw many of them and that served as an inspiration that I can be among them and God has made it so.
Do you intend going into politics?
I don’t have the temperament for politics. But as a good citizen, I would exercise my right to vote during election and I would support the candidate of my choice.
How is life in retirement?
Life in retirement has been wonderful because it is not possible to continue working non-stop. The only issue with my retirement life is going to law school. This really took a lot of my time. When I started, I had issues with my results. I couldn’t find them in time but, eventually, when I did, I was able to enroll as a student at the Nigerian Law School where I met students who were more like my grandchildren’s age mates, but I sat down with them to study. It was a wonderful experience because I know that there is no barrier to education. Education is a continuous process; there is no end to it.
What do you miss about the police?
I miss the discipline of the force, the respect for constituted authority. Discipline and respect exist elsewhere but not as pronounced as it is in the police. There is so much respect for constituted authority in the police and I have to say that the police stand among the organizations that unite this country. l served in every part of Nigeria. There is nowhere in Nigeria that I don’t know. So I think it is an advantage.
What do you cherish most in law?
One thing I like about law is this issue of doing things formally, not cutting corners and I saw the height of it at the law school. You go for internship and do the exams and they don’t lower the standard for anybody to pass. And when you get to court, lawyers respect themselves; they give honor to the senior ones. They can disagree but when they get out of court they shake hands and everybody goes home. You can see the formality of their dressing, they dress like gentlemen. There is no woman in law practice and that is why if you are going to address those in superior court, you put ‘sir’ or ‘your lordship’ and things like that. Law is a wonderful profession; things are very straight forward; you just have to go in accordance with the rules and regulations. Every step is guided by law.
Let’s talk about your background?
I was born on January 10, 1955 at Odo Aiyede Ekiti but most of my life I lived in Lagos. After leaving primary school in my hometown, I went to Methodist School, Surulere, Lagos. I came from a very humble background. My parents were not rich but spiritually they were well endowed. My mother was a petty trader and my father a bricklayer who worked with the defunct National Electric Power Authority, Ijora (NEPA). I attended secondary school in Ikole Ekiti. When I finished, l did private study for advanced level.
I also attended Imekun Grammar School but I didn’t finish for reason of finance, but I was mature enough to take care of myself. I later passed the advanced level programme. From there I went to University of Lagos to read economics which I completed in 1980. In 1981, I enlisted in the Nigerian Police Force. But because everything about the police is the law, I sought admission into UNILAG for the evening law programme, but in the course of this programme, I was involved in an accident during which the upper part of my left leg broke into two and I was admitted into Igbobi Orthopedic Hospital. I spent several months in the hospital but, to the glory of God, I recovered. I worked as a police officer in several places. I started off in Abakaliki.
From there I was posted to Enugu and then to the police college and the Force Headquarters. By the time I left the Force Headquarters in 1992, I was a Superintendent of Police. Then I was in Alagbon where I was Chief Superintendent. From there, I was posted to Katsina. My next posting was to the Nigerian Ports Authority Police where I attained the rank of Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police. I later became the Force Quartermaster in Charge of Uniforms and Accoutrement. I spent one year then and I was posted to Edo as the Commissioner of Police. In 2012, I went to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). That is why you see me adding ‘MNI’, a member of the National Institute, to my name.
At that point, I had been promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General and virtually to DIG. One of the wonderful officers I met in the course of my career that I cannot forget is DIG Parry Osayande, then Chairman of the Police Service Commission. He was my mentor. I equally worked under Mrs. Bisi Ugbowe in my early years in the police. I was her Personal Assistant when he was the DIG Finance and Admin. I gained a lot of experience under her tutelage. She was the first woman CP in Nigeria, first woman AIG and first woman DIG. AIG Bashir Albasu was our Oga, now a District Head in Kano emirate. In terms of contemporaries, IGP Arase, DIG Ganiyu Daodu of blessed memory and l among others joined the police on the same day. DIG John Amadu who died in the Dana air crash was also our contemporary.
You were a police officer and now a lawyer. Did you guide your children to take after you?
I have no say in whatever they choose to pursue. Incidentally my second daughter is a lawyer. Adeola even graduated before me. She is about seven or eight years ahead of me. But my son has taken after me, he is an ASP and they call him officer Omojola. He joined as an ASP. Another of my children is a chartered accountant, one other one is into ICT; another one has MBA and is working with an oil company in Lagos.