Yesterday’s directive by Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, that all police escorts attached to private individuals and companies be withdrawn has been described by many as mere playing to the gallery.
Some others say Idris’ order was perhaps to bolster his claims of innocence of allegations by Isah Misau, a retired police officer-turned senator, that he pockets no less than N10 billion monthly – N120 billion annually – from big companies and VIPs whom he assigns special police escorts.
The order for withdrawal of police escorts from private individuals has been a ritual for successive police chiefs over the years, but these orders have proven not to be worth the paper on which they were written.
OGBONNAYA ONOVO, 2009
In August 2009, while conducting his maiden press conference as IGP, Ogbonnaya Onovo ordered all police personnel attached as private orderlies to private individuals to return to their bases.
Onovo’s audacious order included policemen attached to former heads of states, ministers, legislators and state governors.
He listed the category of persons that were entitled to personal police orderlies, adding that “all persons not listed above are hereby given seven days to release the Police personnel attached to them, and to make alternative arrangements”.
“Such Police personnel are also given seven days from today to report to their commanders in readiness for training.
“Heads of Commands and Formations whose personnel are involved are hereby warned to compile and forward the list of their returning personnel latest 13th August, 2009.
“By this date, any policeman or woman who continues in such duty will be dismissed forthwith and delisted.”
Was the directive obeyed to the letter? Your guess is as good as ours!
One week after issuing the order, Uzor Amakulor, then Commissioner of Police in Anambra State, told citizens of the state that the order excluded “the people that matter in the society”.
In that category, he listed Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth; Alex Ekwueme, former Vice President; and even Pete Edochie, ace nollywood actor, who had been kidnapped days earlier.
“We cannot withdraw their orderlies, because they are the people that matter in the society,” Amakulor insisted..
HAFIZ RINGIM, 2010
In October 2010, Hafiz Ringim, who succeeded Onovo as IGP, issued his own directive — this time warning that officers that refused to return to their bases would be arrested, delisted and prosecuted.
According to Emmanuel Ojukwu, police spokesman at the time, Ringim formed a special monitoring unit to ensure compliance to his directives, but one report quoted an anonymous policeman as describing the directive as “the usual hot air expected from a new police boss”.
“The beneficiaries of the special duty racket are the senior police officers who are given fat sums every month,” the source explained.
“Policemen on special duty may obey the latest order, but once the politicians and others who crave their services go to see the people in charge, an instruction will be passed to the CP to restore the police detail and the order will be forgotten after some time.”
MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR, 2012
Abubakar took over from Ringim with a rather ambitious objective of delivering to Nigeria and Nigerians “the best policing service”. So in his first few months in office, he rolled out a number of directives which he said would restore professionalism and integrity to the police profession.
Among them was the cancellation and withdrawal of all approved police guards for private individuals and corporate bodies.
Also, Abubakar ordered that no person should be detained by the police beyond 24 hours except specifically permitted by law. He also ordered the dismantling of intra-state and highway roadblocks across the country especially on the roads of Lagos, Edo and south-eastern states.
All the directives fell flat on their faces.
SOLOMON ARASE, 2016
During a visit to Niger State in March 2016 as part of his tour of all police commands in the country, Solomon Arase, then IGP, lamented that Nigeria was “grossly under-policed”, adding that there were just about 8,000 police personnel in Niger State.
Arase made the comments during a meeting with Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers, students, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) and other security agencies in the Niger State.
“I have given a directive that policemen on postings as orderlies to individuals, including politicians, be withdrawn immediately and redeployed to other more sensitive posts in order to provide the needed security across the country,” Arase said.
But in the same speech, Arase also called on “individuals, private organisations and communities to come to the aid of the Police in the country by providing logistics to them to facilitate their activities”, adding that government could not shoulder the responsibilities of security alone.
EZEKWESILI SUMS IT UP
The reaction of Oby Ezekwesili, former Minister of Education, to Monday’s announcement by the Nigerian Police, aptly captures the feeling of many Nigerians.
“How many other times have we heard this “immediate withdraw” notice? They keep taking Citizens’ for a ride. One day be one day,” Ezekwesili tweeted.
Very annoying kind of “Breaking News”. How many other times have we heard this “immediate withdraw” notice? They keep taking Citizens’ for a ride. One day be one day…… https://t.co/TPLXUw1ai6
— Oby Ezekwesili (@obyezeks) March 19, 2018