THE Nigeria Police Force is not a stranger to embarrassing controversies. Under the regime of the current Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Idris, the Force has rolled from one stormy issue to another, especially within the past one year.
These include Senator Isa Misau’s allegation of corruption and misconducts against the IGP (which is still pending in court) and President Muhammadu Buhari’s disclosure that the IGP failed to obey his order to relocate to Benue to tackle rampaging herdsmen. Others are the invasion of the Senate plenary and hijacking of the Mace by hoodlums; the blockade of the official residence of the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, as well as the connection of Senators Saraki and Dino Melaye to criminal gangs in Kwara and Kogi states, respectively.
When the story broke on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 that a team of policemen led by Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP David Dominic, stormed the home of nonagenarian and Ijaw/South-South leader, Chief Edwin Clark, apparently in search of arms and ammunition, it was generally seen as part of the growing tendency of the Police and security agencies to target opposition leaders for harassment.
However, in a swift reaction, the IGP dispatched a high-powered delegation led by Deputy Inspector- General of Police, D-IGP, Mr Habila Joshak, to tender an unreserved apology to Chief Clark, saying the Police authorities did not order the search (which its official statement described as illegal and unprofessional). The Police also paraded the “informant”, one Ismail Yakubu, who allegedly misled the officers, and placed the erring officers on orderly room trial for appropriate sanctions.
We are relieved that Chief Clark gamely accepted the apology though he still intends to pursue legal redress for the invasion of his privacy and unfounded suspicion of stockpiling arms. It is even more reassuring that the Police came out openly to apologise and take necessary disciplinary measures against its misguided officers. However, we hope the informant and police officers will be prosecuted in open court to douse speculations that the actions the Police have taken so far are meant to conceal the perceived ulterior political motives behind the raid of the elder statesman’s home.
The Police have the constitutional power to search the home of anyone to prevent or detect crime, but it must be done with a duly-obtained search warrant from a competent court. If police officers could raid a senior citizen’s home without due authorisation and warrant, it says a lot about the level of professional training that senior Nigeria Police officers are exposed to.
The IGP and his team should work harder to avoid unnecessarily exposing the government to ridicule through the unbecoming activities of its top brass.