Floundering Top Cop


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Floundering Top Cop




Babajide Kolade-Otitoju



Sunday Ehindero stutters on as head of the Nigeria Police, his reign signposted by glaring incompetence and non-fulfilment of promises made when he took office

culled from THE NEWS, October 30, 2006

The scene inside the Inspector-General’s expansive office, Kam Salem House, Abuja on 18 January 2005, was certainly one to remember. Supporters and aides of Sunday Ehindero, who had just been appointed Nigeria’s 22nd Inspector-General of Police, had massed inside the office vacated by his predecessor, Tafa Adebayo Balogun, singing songs in derision of Balogun, variously described as the most corrupt officer to ever head the Nigeria Police. Some Christians in the singing party prayed and spoke in tongues, as they made a show of driving out a supposed evil spirit represented by Balogun, one which held the police down by debilitating corruption.

The officers and men of the Nigeria Police had high hopes that Ehindero would engender positive change in the Force and do something quickly about its battered image. Indeed, Ehindero made a show of his determination to outperform his predecessor after becoming IGP. He boasted that he was set to breathe life into a Force that seemed to have been strangulated by Tafa Balogun’s unparalleled greed. First, Ehindero jettisoned the police crime-fighting Operation Fire-for-Fire slogan for his own – To Serve and Protect with Integrity. Under this new arrangement, policemen were expected to display a high sense of responsibility and decency in relating with the public. He backed it up with his own 10-point agenda, a replacement for Tafa’s eight-point programme.

Ehindero’s agenda include the combat of violent and economic crimes, conflict prevention and resolution, community policing and police-public partnership, zero-tolerance for corruption and indiscipline within the Force, improving career development, salary and welfare packages to motivate police delivery and discipline, reorganising the investigation outfit of the force to ensure prompt and timely investigation of cases, contributing positively to improving the quality of justice delivery in Nigeria, empowering field officers operationally by devolution of powers to improve the standards, reliability, consistency and responsiveness of the service, and reorientating the Force Public Relations Department to focus on improving public perception and image of the Force.

With these, Ehindero got down to brass tacks, or so it seemed. And he appeared to enjoy the cooperation and followership of the entire Force. More especially, as his appointment was greeted with a huge welcome. Before his appointment, cops in the junior cadre groaned, while their superiors basked in irritating corruption. The situation remained so until President Olusegun Obasanjo approved the sack of Balogun. Balogun’s sack and subsequent prosecution ignited euphoria in the Force. That euphoria, which extended into the first phase of Ehindero’s reign, was, however, shortlived as Nigerians again and again saw manifestations of the usual symptoms of decay for which the force is notorious; the police becoming so powerless in the face of rising crime wave countrywide.

Like the irritable bowel syndrome, assassinations, most of them suspected to have been politically motivated, became recurrent, breeding anxiety and depression in the citizenry. And to the discredit of the Sunday Ehindero-led Force, not only has he spectacularly failed to solve such murders, some of police actions before and after such murders have bred suspicion of complicity. Critics cite the fact that four policemen were with the late Funsho Williams in his Ikoyi home when gunmen found their way in to murder the Lagos State governorship aspirant of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP.

After the murder of Engineer Funsho Williams on 27 July 2006, Ehindero, like a police boss seeking yet another opportunity to grab the headlines, visited the Lagos home of the deceased. However, a mob presented a stiff resistance, preventing the nation’s number one law enforcer from entering. They shouted: “We will not allow you in, because you will bungle the case.” Ehindero replied: “No, I will do something.”

To show that he meant business, Ehindero invited the London Metropolitan and Canadian Police officers to assist him. They claimed that if Williams’ eyes (the retina) were examined, they could get to the root of the murder. However, the Scotland Yard headquarters of the British Metropolitan Police denied the expatriates. The Head, Specialist Crime Press Desk, Ruth Shulver, sent an electronic mail to The Punch that the British detectives did not have the permission of the British government to visit Nigeria. In the words of Shulver, the detectives “have now returned to the UK as formal authorisation from the British government is required when police officers in England and Wales travel overseas to provide advice and assistance. Ministers are currently being consulted on the question of authorisation.” Could this be a deliberate attempt to bungle the investigation? Even then, the result of the much-touted examination of Williams’ retina is yet to be released, with the entire investigation already losing steam.

A month before Williams was killed, Jesse Arukwu, a governorship aspirant in Plateau State, was killed in similar circumstances. In 2005, some politicians, including Sunday Atte, leader of the legislative council in Yagba East Local Government in Kogi State; Alhaji Hassan Olajokun, an associate of Alhaji Rauf Aregbsola, Lagos State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure; Lateef Olaniyan, an aide of Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu; Patrick Origbe, Principal Administrative Officer of Uvirie Local Government Area in Delta State and Anthony Ozioko, Assistant National Director of Research and Planning, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were killed. Up till this moment, Ehindero is yet to make a breakthrough.

Early in the year, Sa’adatu, wife of Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, former Kano State governor, was killed in her room. Though Rimi described the incident as politically-motivated, the police differed. A group of people including Rimi’s son were later arraigned in court for the killing. Rimi’s wife’s murder and many others have continued to generate flaks for the police boss. Nigerians are worried that rather than check the rising spate of assassinations in the country, the police boss prefers to offer excuses on the inability of the police to do their work effectively.

Yet, many recall that at inception, Ehindero was reported to have proffered a solution to high profile murders to his former boss. In an interview published in The Punch, 6 February 2005 edition, he revealed that “I specifically asked that we needed to reorganise our investigation department. It was getting to an alarming situation the way high calibre and sensational cases were being handled and bungled. It was a shame that we could not investigate simple’s cases of murder, fraud, assassinations. It was an issue bordering on capability.”

Given his incapability to solve murder puzzles, Ehindero is drawing comparisons with Balogun, the same man he tried to cast as incompetent in that interview. For instance, while the top cop was still struggling to grapple with the mystery of Williams’ murder, Dr. Ayodeji Daramola, a PDP governorship aspirant in Ekiti State, was gruesomely murdered in Ijan-Ekiti, his hometown on 14 August 2006. Ehindero rushed to the deceased’s home town in Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State. He swore: “The killers will not go unpunished. This won’t be like other high profile killings that have taken place.”

The same day, he held a secret meeting with Fayose who poured invectives on those who murdered Daramola. “May those who killed Daramola never know peace; May the sword of destruction never depart from their homes,” the now suspended governor cursed. Ehindero made some dramatic moves as if he was serious about investigating this particular murder. That was after President Olusegun Obasanjo ordered him to fish out the murderers or face sack. “You must get to the root of this matter if you want to retain your commission as a police officer,” Mr. President ordered.

With a knee-jerk response, Ehindero called a meeting of Ekiti stakeholders. But he started showing traces of unseriousness to solve the murder afterwards. When Abiodun Aluko, former Ekiti deputy governor, asked the IGP why Fayose was not present at a meeting convened by him (IG) with Ekiti elites on Daramola’s murder, Ehindero shot back: “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.” Aluko narrated to PMNews, our sister publication: “The IGP said Fayose could not be asked to come and sit among us and be answering charges. He said he had brought him earlier on Sunday to give his own side of the story. Have you ever seen where one man will say his own side of the story and be guilty? He would naturally deny he had a hand. But if he had been at the meeting with us and the IGP, and I started reeling out these instances and his role, we would have seen his reaction.” Aluko was referring to when Fayose attempted to have him murdered at Ikere Ekiti.

Worse still, the five-man committee that Ehindero set up claimed it submitted the names of suspects but the police said they could not be arrested because “the IGP has not given a go-ahead.” Yet, the same police arrested Mr. Yinka Akerele, an Ekiti State PDP gubernatorial aspirant. Another politician who was at the IGP meeting was also detained. Another accusation against Ehindero was that he removed the name of a particular AIG from the investigation panel claiming that he might be biased because “he is from Ekiti.” But the AIG replied Ehindero: “If I were the IGP and a high profile murder was committed, won’t I investigate it?”

Also, when Idowu Adelusi, Fayose’s chief press secretary, issued a press release that some people wanted to kill a prominent person in Ekiti and soon afterwards, Daramola was assassinated, “Adelusi was not questioned on how or where he got his information,” a PDP top notcher complained. Again, in the case of Dr. Daramola, as in other political killings, a band of criminals was paraded as armed robbers responsible for the killing. But the public would quickly disagree with Ehindero. Kehinde, the late Daramola’s widow, was the first to react. She berated the Police Force and its leadership for doing a shoddy job in their investigation. She wondered why the Inspector-General was carrying on as if acting on a written script. She dismissed the armed robbery theory.

Yet, there are other instances of the nation’s number one crime buster incompetently handling his job. Governor Ayo Fayose’s reign in Ekiti State was characterised by violence and extra-judicial killings. But Ehindero seems reluctant to uncover these crimes. When students of the Ekiti State College of Education protested against the imposition of a provost on the institution, Chief Dayo Okondo, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ekiti State, allegedly opened fire on them. One of the victims was Jayeola Olugbenga who was shot in the leg. In the consequent protest against Okondo’s cruelty, eight students were killed by the police.

TheNEWS gathered that Olugbenga has lately been receiving delegations from the Okondo family. “They begged me with N250,000. But since Chief Okondo shot me three years ago, the family had neglected me. They did not do anything,” he lamented. He added that they have “increased their price to N3 million, asking me to change the original statement I wrote for the police. They begged me that instead of writing that it was Chief Okondo that personally shot me, I should say it was a mobile policeman that did it. But I cannot do that,” he vowed.

Olugbenga, however, lamented that the Okondos had been able to influence Seinde Daramola, another victim of the Ikere shooting, to change his statement. “All of these are meant to help the police get Chief Okondo off the hook,” Olugbenga said. The Ifaki mayhem that led to the death of Tunde Omojola was another chapter in Fayose’s reign of terror. Alaba Sunday Omotayo, leader, Ekiti State Youth Emancipation Congress, who was in the same vehicle with the late Omojola and stayed with him till he breathed his last, narrated to TheNEWS that “the Governor ordered his boys to beat me up. They hit Omojola with the butts of their guns.” Omotayo wondered why policemen who were present did not prevent such a tragedy.

Another witness to what happened to Omojola, Sule Bakare, told his own side of the story: “The boy (Omojola) was beaten up in my presence. I begged Governor Fayose to allow me to take Omojola to the hospital. The Governor refused, saying, ‘I don’t care.’” Bakare wondered why Ehindero claimed he was still “investigating a murder that took place over three years ago in broad daylight and witnessed by over 1,000 people.” To buttress the accusation of the police compromising their work, Mr. Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, argued that when Fayose came to power, he set up a killer squad made up of policemen and his own thugs. “His Chief Security Officer, one Mr. Gbenga Odusa, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), is the head of the squad,” Falana charged, adding that the civilian section is headed by Chief Dayo Okondo, a member of the PDP Board of Trustees at the national level.

Okondo and Gbenga are in detention, but nothing is being said about the latter. Falana explained that the IG “made a passing reference to Chief Okondo with regards to the killing of Tunde Omojola as well as the murderous attack on students at Ikere Ekiti,” because “there is connivance between the Nigeria Police and the killer squad in Ekiti State.” Another instance of Ehindero’s pussy-footing was when President Olusegun Obasanjo compelled the State Security Service (SSS) to investigate the existence or otherwise of Fayose’s killer squad. Falana alleged that it identified the members, their operational mode, funding and exploits. “The SSS,” Falana explained, “recommended that those criminals be brought to justice, [but] nothing happened, because the police failed to prosecute those accused.”

Falana submitted further that the press conference held by Ehindero last week, where he paraded the suspected murderers of Daramola, was premature and hasty. “There is vital documentary evidence which the police needed to decode to clear the air. But in his own wisdom, Mr. Sunday Ehindero has left out that aspect. This is most embarrassing to the police,” he averred. Given Ehindero’s promise to get to the root of Daramola’s murder, the IG’s press conference on the “progress” of investigation into the murder was to many, a kick in the teeth, especially the IG’s announcement that three of the suspected killers were armed robbers rather than assassins. What’s more, the sole suspect who claimed that he along with a certain Olu, (who was said to have been shot dead while trying to escape), were hired by Goke Olatunji, suspended Governor Fayose’s Personal Assistant, could not identify Goke when he was paraded. For this reason, the IG said up till now, the motive behind the killing of Daramola could not be ascertained. His statement clearly handed Fayose and his aides, suspected of masterminding the killing, a breather and insulation from prosecution for the murder.

It is for this reason that Daramola’s widow believes the police have something to hide. The woman, who has yet to be interrogated since the death of her husband, affirmed that if the assailants were armed robbers they would have stolen something from their victim. Yet, aside a general inability to solve murders, the police under Ehindero have stepped up cases of extra-judicial killing of suspects. This happens in numerous police cells, despite the slogan touting the force as being determined to serve the populace with “integrity”. A report published by Amnesty International last year affirmed that summary executions are on the high in police formations in Nigeria, especially Area G Command, Lagos.

Sometimes, such summary executions even take place outside police stations. In June 2005, six Igbo traders were murdered at Apo Mechanic Village by policemen over a mere argument. Shortly after the murder, Ehindero claimed that they were robbers killed during a gun duel. It soon turned out he was lying. Invariably, six policemen, including Danjuma Ibrahim, Deputy Commissioner of Police; Abdulsalam Othman, Divisional Police Officer, and N. J. Zachariah, an assistant superintendent of police, were implicated. Consequently, Ehindero set up a board of inquiry to look into the matter.

But many policemen were uncomfortable with the move. Despite that, Ehindero continued with his findings. “I know that there are some policemen whose professional conduct were inappropriate, and because of what we found out during investigations, we are having to arraign some of them in court. Some for conspiracy and some for murder,” he told TheNEWS. However, many believe that Ehindero’s action was inspired by the Federal Government’s move to set-up a National Judicial Panel of inquiry into the matter. But Ehindero disagreed. In his view, the Federal Government’s panel of inquiry was inferior since it did not carry out a thorough investigation before going on to prosecute those involved. “That judicial body of enquiry is an inferior court. It is inferior to the High Court. In fact, due process has to be followed. They have no job to do again,” he claimed.

Today, the bad news to lovers of justice is that Danjuma, the ring leader of the murderous cops, has been released on bail, despite the seriousness of the crime he committed, for which a prima facie case has clearly been established. Many are also worried that in the usual police effort at covering their tracks after committing murder, a policemen who witnessed the murder and fiercely opposed it was poisoned to death by his colleagues in the Abuja Police Command. The most sinister conduct manifested by Ehindero during his apparently unsuccessful reign as police boss is his seeming addiction to lies.

The case of Alaba Joseph, deceased Managing Director of Mobitel is an example. Ehindero had initially told his bewildered countrymen and women, the man died when he fell in a bid to escape from his office as police moved to take over his company’s premises over indebtedness to a bank. But forensic evidence proved later that the IG, like in the Apo Six matter, lied. Professor John Obafunwa, a pathologist commissioned to conduct autopsy on the dead Mobitel boss, revealed that contrary to Ehindero’s claim on Friday, 14 October, 2005, Alaba died of gunshot wounds. Ehindero, as he did in the Apo Six case, did a volte face later when he could no longer lie his way out of the overwhelming evidence against the police. “The said report was unequivocal as to the cause of death with gunshot injury, cranio cerebral injuries,” Haz Iwendi, Police Public Relations Officer, said.

Cases of mindless killing by the police under Ehindero are too numerous to cite, and they serve as a constant reminder that the police have yet to change under Ehindero, but are actually moving from bad to worse. But one clear evidence that the IG has failed is the geometrical rise in armed robbery cases in the land, especially bank robbery. These attacks have apparently discomfited President Olusegun Obasanjo. Alarmed by the high and increasing cases of bank robbery, the President issued a query to Ehindero late last year directing him to take appropriate steps to curtail the trend.

The document which was exclusively published in The Punch of 4 September, 2005 was signed by DDN Kaze for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Titled “Increasing Rate of Bank Robberies Across the Country,” the memo warned that if left unsalvaged, such robberies could cause a loss of confidence in the economy and the entire government machinery by the citizenry and international community.’’ The memo, which was also copied to the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, indicated bank robbery was higher in the South-East and South-South parts of Nigeria. It noted that within the period, there were 28 cases of bank robbery in the regions, out of 47 cases recorded throughout the nation, which translates to about 60 per cent. Abia State, first in the alphabetical order of states in Nigeria, recorded the highest cases with Anambra having the least case of one attack.

Enugu and Imo recorded five cases each, while Delta had four incidents. Only one attack was recorded for Lagos, Cross River and Benue States each. Four states in the North, Adamawa Kebbi, Benue and Kogi, got six cases among them in the period. While noting the upsurge in bank robbery cases between January and July 2005, which were the first six months of Ehindero’s reign, it urged the IG to convene a closed-door security retreat with bank executives to appraise current security measures in banks. The Presidency, in the memo observed that the homes of bank managers were often the first point of attack, with bank managers being led to bank premises at gunpoint to open the strongrooms and vaults, from where huge sums of money get stolen.

The memo was later followed by another presidential order, compelling Ehindero to halt the increasing cases of robbery attacks on luxury buses and night travellers across the country.
Agitated by the plethora of presidential hairdriers, Ehindero took the venom out on police commissioners, threatening to suspend any one of them in whose zones such cases occur. “These cases have become rampant. Some commands are complacent. They just sit down and can’t take initiatives. Some robbers spend hours, go with welding machines, arms and yet in the commands we have stop-and-search officers. I must tell you that you have to do your duty. I can’t do it for you,” Ehindero charged during a meeting with senior police officers in his office.

Indeed, he admitted his failure during a parley with police commissioners and above on 19 July 2006. He confessed that inefficiency of the police and disregard of his directives were responsible for the prevalence of crime in Nigeria. He fumed: “I am not happy at the rate of robbery in this country. Despite my efforts, the rate is still going up. I had written to some commands on this. I must say that in spite of my efforts, crime rate is going up.” He attributed the failure to the nonchalant attitude of some top officers who he claimed go to bed early without putting rapid response mechanisms in place to stem the tide of violent crime.

Like a man who has irredeemably lost control of his men, he took pains to catalogue his orders that subordinates have disobeyed. “I said no road blocks, but you go to our highways today, everywhere is full of road blocks. I asked you people to get rid of scrap cars in your stations and commands; they are still there. I gave directive on the use of siren, yet individuals still blare siren at will in your states. Even as the IG, I don’t use my siren,” he fumed. Still admitting failure, he pointed out that he has no power to deal with erring policemen and those he described as criminals and armed robbers in the police. “I need more powers to discipline incorrigible constables and deputy superintendents of police who found their way into the force because of improper screening,” the frustrated IG declared.

But as the situation moved from disbelief to despair, the Tiger, which is the police code name for the IGP, found new excuses for his failings. Within Lagos alone, more than 12 cases of bank robbery occurred under four weeks. The story was even worse in Port Harcourt, where armed youth have made mincemeat of policemen in several sorties on banks located along waterfronts. This time, the clawless Tiger blamed the upsurge in bank robbery on the federal government’s N25 billion bank capitalisation policy which, according to him, rendered many bank employees jobless. “These jobless bank workers who have been thrown out of the system now connive with robbers and provide them with useful information,” he claimed.

Like it happened during the run-up to the 2003 general elections, cases of politically induced violence and assassinations soon replaced organised bank robberies. In May 2005, Alliance for Democracy chieftain, Alhaji Alabi Olajoku was killed in Gbongan, Osun State by unidentified gunmen. Olajoku, a Lagos-based businessman, was believed to be the main backer of the Oramiyan Group, a movement committed to the enthronement of Rauf Aregbesola, Lagos State Works Commissioner, as governor of Osun State. That same day, Jide Omoworare, majority leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, was abducted from the same spot and later taken to Oyo town, where he was released by his abductors

In July 2005, popular Ibadan grassroots politician and close aide to Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Lateef Olaniyan a.k.a. Lati Oshogbo was killed in Ibadan by unknown gunmen. The New Year started on a bloody note, with reports that five persons were killed in Azare town in Bauchi State when supporters of Governor Adamu Mu’azu and those of Isa Yuguda, former Aviation Minister, clashed. Later in the year, Jesse Arukwu, a governorship aspirant of Action Congress in Plateau State, was abducted and later killed by unknown gunmen in the state. Almost at the same time, another governorship aspirant in Plateau State, Pam Dung Gyang escaped an attempt on his life, but his close aide was not so lucky, as he fell victim to the sniper’s bullet. Victor Lar, a member of the House of Representatives, had his stars to thank when he missed the assassins’ bullets by whiskers.

Around April, David Attah, former Chief Press Secretary to the late Sani Abacha, was abducted from his Makurdi residence by armed robbers after dispossessing him of cash and valuables. Attah was later rescued by sympathizers in a nearby village, who found him naked. In Port Harcourt, the Government Reservation Area abode of Austin Opara, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, was shredded on 6 June 2006 when dynamite was thrown into it by unknown persons. In encapsulation, the IG had failed to protect life and property, as blood-thirsty felons spread fear in the land.

Ehindero, like other police bosses before him, though a trained lawyer, has a penchant for disobeying court orders. Indeed, on Thursday 20 October, 2005 he unequivocally declared he would no longer allow policemen to carry out court orders on receivership, citing the Mobitel case in which the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the company, Alaba Joseph died during receivership of his company. He gave the excuse that two of his men were detained for enforcing court orders on receivership. This was in violation of his oath to protect the constitution as stated in section 287 of the 1999 Constitution.

He refused to obey an order by a Federal High Court in Lagos presided over by Justice A.O. Ogie, asking him, in a judgment delivered in favour of Universal Trust Bank on 10 August 2005, to enforce the receivership of Pacers Multi Dynamics Limited, a subsidiary of Sanderson Ventures. In that case, Paces Multi Dynamics Limited had guaranteed facilities granted to Sanderton with plot 2 & 2A at Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos as security. The facilities granted the company (N537 million), between 29 January 2000 and 30 April 2002 had risen to N1.2 billion by last year. Sanderton defaulted in redeeming its pledge, forcing the court to appoint a receiver manager. An incensed Chief Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), UTB’s lawyer, queried: “Is it not a clear invitation to anarchy and lawlessness if the IGP were to be allowed to get away with his threat? How does the IG want law-abiding citizens, especially banking and financial institutions which are usually the parties involved in receivership, to recover debt owed the by defaulting borrowers.” He wondered whether the IG would want banks to resort to using area boys or other social miscreants or raise their own police to enforce court orders on receivership.

Investigation by TheNEWS, however, revealed that Ehindero’s tough talk against the enforcement of receivership orders by the police may have been a mere cover-up of a greater failing of his – ineffective leadership. It was reliably gathered that the IGP had, indeed, on Monday 5 September, in a memo, directed Ade Ajakaiye, then Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2; Lagos State Police Commissioner, their deputies and other officers and men under their command to carry out the court’s order. But Ajakaiye disregarded the order. This clear instance of insubordination became the yardstick adopted by other officers in responding to Ehindero’s orders, a clear manifestation that he had lost control over the Force.

The police boss who promised to win a war against corruption and indiscipline in the police appears to have lost it. The level of corruption and indiscipline in the force has escalated beyond his control as his men have, without shame, even taken their indiscipline and corruption to foreign missions. In September last year, the Federal Government withdrew 120 police officers who were part of Operation MONUC, the 16,000-strong UN mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC. The withdrawal was premised on allegations of sexual harassment against some of the officers on peace mission in that country. Reports indicated 10 Nigerian officers were investigated by the UN for such sex-related offences as rape, seduction of children and demanding sex in exchange for money and goods. It was further gathered that the wayward officers used UN vehicles to run around with local girls and to transport unauthorised persons illegally. A shamed Ehindero dispatched one of his lieutenants, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mike Okiro to repatriate the contingent after assessing the situation.

For some of Ehindero’s men, roberry seems a preferred avenue for making illicit money. The Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2 Command, Lagos, Mr. A. S. Adeoye, recently dismissed two policemen and demoted six over robbery. One of those sacked was Tunde Adewale of Area G Police Command, Ogba, who was arrested on 16 March on the allegation that he tried to dispossess a student of his money. He operated in the Iyana Ipaja area, accosting bank customers and collecting their money on frivolous charges. But his luck ran out when men of the Criminal Investigation Bureau from Zone 2 arrested him while attempting to illegally collect some dollars from a civilian.

Luck also ran out on some Area G Police Command personnel when they commandeered a bus belonging to one Onovo. When he resisted, on the excuse that he was going to meet his pregnant wife at home, the policemen insisted, claiming that they were going to arrest some robbers. In the shoot-out at the Spring Bank branch on Wempco Road, Ogba, Onovo, who waited in the bus at a distance, died when he was hit by a stray bullet. However, the Lagos State Police Command later discovered that the policemen themselves were robbers. They were promptly arrested, detained and dismissed from the Force.

Beyond robbery, policemen have turned road blocks to points of extortion where they collect money from motorists and pedestrians. Lack of adequate equipment continues to sap the force of its morale, as most police officers spoken to claimed that though Tafa’s era was characterised by monstrous corruption, morale was higher because of the promise of promotion. The issue of low morale in the force has grown so alarming that policemen now beg for money to buy equipment and fuel their patrol vehicles. Under Ehindero, policemen were (and still are not motivated. “When Ehindero took over, he reversed some promotion ordered by his predecessor, Tafa Balogun,” an angry cop told TheNEWS in Ogba.

Even the community policing initiative inherited from Tafa Balogun has been such a massive failure under Ehindero. And it is no wonder, say critics, that the gap between the people and the police has continued to widen, with Nigerians still largely suspicious of the police and offering it little cooperation in the war against crime. Though he was reluctant to confirm Ehindero’s appointment, only confirming it nine months later, after sustained pressure by the National Assembly, many Nigerians remain intrigued that President Obasanjo, rather than look for a new police boss after Ehindero reached the mandatory retirement age stuck to him. For this act on the part of the President, Cletus Ezerebo, a Chief Superintendent of Police, felt aggrieved. After Ehindero’s confirmation, Ezerebo raced to a Federal High Court in Abuja, asking it to nullify Ehindero’s appointment as IGP. Ezerebo added that Ehindero ought to have left the service on 20 March, 2006 having reached the mandatory retirement age.

If there is no dispute over Ehindero being overaged for the current office he occupies, the same, however, cannot be said about where he comes from. TheNEWS gathered that Ogbagi and Oyin communities in Ondo State are still in dispute over his ancestry. One person who thinks Ehindero has done well is Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, former Lagos State Commissioner of Police. In a chat with TheNEWS, Tsav described Ehindero as a fantastic officer who is neither greedy nor ambitious. ‘‘If you look at the target set by the IG for the police, you will agree with me that Ehindero has done his best in curbing crime, protecting lives and property and above all, the police under him is a respecter of the rule of law. If you go retrospect, you will agree with me that under Tafa Balogun, the police was known for flouting court orders. But this man (Ehindero) has repositioned the police with the limited power given him,’’ he declared.

He blamed the state police commissioners for Ehindero’s inability to tackle crime in the states, saying they are not only corrupt, but lack conscience. He declared that Ehindero will do a better job if he was given more powers to check the excesses of police commissioners in the various states. Tsav’s claim that it is the commissioners who are frustrating Ehindero definitely contradicts the Benue-born retired cop and anti corruption crusader’s earlier claim that Ehindero’s tenure has been a success. His claim too that Ehindero is a respecter of court orders also flies in the face of evidence.

Born Sunday Gabriel Ehindero on 20 March, 1946, in Jos, Plateau State, he is a graduate of Mathematics and Law from the Universities of Ibadan and London. Ehindero became Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1973. He rose through the ranks until 17 January 2005 when he was appointed the Inspector-General of Police, following the sack of Tafa Balogun. Upon assumption of office, Ehindero promised to differ from his predecessors. But earlier on, his attempt to buy one of the federal government houses in Ikoyi, Lagos, valued at over a hundred million naira gave a hint that he may not be too different from his predecessor, and it is that transaction which President Obasanjo eventually voided that some police commissioners who disobey Ehindero’s orders with impunity cite in making the point that he too is corrupt. But the Ondo-born cop is unperturbed and believes he could achieve efficient service delivery in the force by decentralising some of its organs.

‘‘Formerly, the Federal Highway Patrol was controlled from the Headquarters. We have decentralised it, because there is no way I can be the IGP here and know what is happening in the states at the same time. I have also looked at the CID and I found out that there is the need to bring in professionals within the Police Force CIDs,” he said. But the professionals seem not to have found their footing up till now. What with the unsolved murders in the land. Yet, Ehindero would want to be remembered as the police boss that “left the police force better than he met it. I want to see a police that is proactive and not reactive. A police that will think about what would happen and take action rather than wait for it to happen before going after the criminal,” he said. Perhaps, Ehindero is yet to commence his mission.


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