By Martins Oloja
This is not a lamentation on Abba Kyari and what the nation and FBI would like to do with him. Nor is it another opportunity to ask the governing party and indeed our current leaders the kind of police force they want to secure us internally. After all, we may have lost consciousness of the fact that our internal security responsibility lies with the Nigerian Police Force as it is in most parts of the world. Rather, it is a time we should begin to advise people not to lose hope about this great country that our political dealers, sorry leaders have run down, almost irretrievably.
I still see hope. I can see some architecture in our ruins. Don’t mind the debacle that the Tokyo, Japan 2020 in 2021, the Olympics has shamefully become. Don’t be afraid that 2023 may be a mirage, after all because of reports of Nigeria’s worsening food insecurity and rising terrorism. Be not frightened by the sophistry on banditry by state actors. As I have been saying, thank God, we now know them. We are now well aware that they were not prepared: they had nothing to offer the people they pledged to rule well. Don’t get prepared to run away to another country where life is easier.
This perilous time shall pass. And the wicked ones who are making life difficult will pay dearly for their hypocrisy and breach of oath they have sworn to. Don’t be despondent that they have failed us. Just be angry about the state of the nation. Just show some anger with our naivety and simplicity in 2015 and 2019. Be angry that we couldn’t discern that some scoundrels were seeking to ruin rather than rule us then.
Note this: in this age of instant consequences for actions, those who are stealing our money, those who don’t care about the economic condition and are even overpaying themselves instead of working part-time shall pay dearly for their iniquities. They can’t go unpunished even here on earth. So, let’s leave the ruling party’s war on the rule of law. They are the law. They can kick the law in the face. They are not only in office, they are also in power. As a creative headline writer put it at the weekend, they can rely on their Attorney General’s rule of law to run their political party the way they like. They can appoint more governors and even ministers to run their party till 2023. The heavens will not fall, so they think.
Let’s begin to write and plan with those who would like to be angry and seek to run the country after this present darkness. Let’s seek understanding and encourage those who have blueprint on how to make Nigeria the authentic leader of Africa, not a leader on rebasing conundrum, which doesn’t qualify us to be members of the influential G-20 and BRICS. South Africa they claim we are richer than, is a member of both elite clubs.
I think we should leave those who have confined us to this reproachful valley and concentrate on those who are capable of rebuilding our broken walls from 2023. I mean here that instead of weeping for the alleged ‘errors of tragedy’ of our deputy commissioner of police, our most decorated poster-boy, Abba Kyari, let’s work for leaders who have already deepened their understanding that serious nations develop their police service, not soldiers or secret services for internal security. Instead of just condemnation of the enormity of the carelessness of officer Abba the FBI named 221 times in their 69-page report to Nigeria, let’s weep for the nation that has failed to reform the police they knew produced a DSP George Iyamu, the police officer convicted for supplying guns to the Lawrence Anini armed robbery deadly gang that terrorised the nation in the late 1980s.
You would recall as if it were yesterday that on December 3, 1986, Anini, ‘the Law’ was caught at No 26, Oyemwosa Street, opposite Iguodala Primary School, Benin City, carousing with scarlet ladies. Once in the net then, the criminal began to sing like a canary. That was how we knew the facts behind Anini’s powers, after all. It turned out that the main sources of his seeming invincibility were criminals within the police force who he had compromised to aid and abet his evil enterprise with insider information and weapons. Ten police officers, including George Iyamu, a Deputy Superintendent of Police, were tried with Anini and his gang of scoundrels. Five of the police officers, including Iyamu, were convicted and executed with Anini and his accomplices on March 29, 1987.
DSP George Iyamu, the biggest revelation in the Anini saga, became incredibly rich by shielding Anini and his boys, leaking police secrets, and giving them logistical support, including arms, for their operations. By playing the godfather to Anini, Iyamu acquired many houses, exotic cars, wine and women of variegated shapes and sizes. The blood money the villains got then enabled them to compromise the police system and operated freely till they met their Waterloo.
The question is: Have the police improved service to the nation after the execution of Anini and his gang in 1987? Since Anini, the DNA of crime and criminality has mutated several times. Today, kidnapping, cattle rustling, cultism, cybercrime, YahooPlus, money ritual, identity theft, and terrorism rule the roost. Have the Nigerian police force squared up to this nightmare?
Remember Apo Six 2005?
Can we recall that on March 26, 2018, the families of six victims of extra-judicial killings by police officers that shook Abuja in 2005 expressed disappointment over the reinstatement and ‘speedy’ promotion of one of the alleged arrowheads, a deputy commissioner of police (DCP), charged with the murders? The then DCP, Ibrahim Danjuma, and four other officers were tried for the killing of the five automobile spare-parts dealers and a woman between the night of June 7 and 8, 2005.
The victims had spent some time at a club on Gimbiya Street, Area 11, and were returning to their home in Apo neighbourhood when they encountered some police officers who opened fire on them after an altercation. The police had initially said that the victims, whose ages were between 21-25 and included a woman, were armed robbers. But a panel set up by President Olusegun Obasanjo to look into the matter dsimissed most of the accounts by the police and recommended Mr Danjuma and his men for trial. The five officers and eight other witnesses testified before the panel that Mr Ibrahim, the most senior of the accused officers, allegedly ordered the killings.
Accordingly, all the officers were immediately placed on suspension by the police authorities but twelve years later, two of the officers were convicted and sentenced to death, but the FCT High Court presiding judge, Ishaq Bello, said there was no evidence to convict Mr Danjuma and two others.
In November 2017, the police confirmed to a newspaper that Mr Danjuma had been reinstated but said the reinstatement was approved by the Police Service Commission, which relied on the judgment of the FCT High Court that freed him after finding him not culpable. Mr Danjuma’s rank was restored, his accumulated salaries from June 2005, were also paid with plans to send him on a refresher course, a police memo published by another digital news channel showed. In December 2018, he was promoted from the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) to the rank of Commissioner of Police. A few days after, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris decorated Mr Danjuma with his new rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG).
Expectedly, family members of some of the deceased persons protested the perceived injustice. One of the family members lamented, “I am highly disappointed with the way the federal government and the judiciary system of Nigeria has treated the Apo six case,” Elvis Ozor, brother to one of the deceased said. He described Mr Danjuma’s reinstatement and ‘speedy’ promotion by the police as a classic case of injustice and abuse of law…After all the facts that were gotten from the panel of inquiry indicting this same man, at the end of the day, justice was not delivered and as if that is not enough this man was reinstated and even promoted to the rank of AIG…
He was paid all his salaries up to date while we the family of the deceased is yet to be paid compensations from the government directly. We are disappointed. This shows that there is nothing like one Nigeria, it’s a camouflage statement. We are being neglected,” he said. How can six people commit a crime and they only sentenced two, leaving the main pillar of the case, Ibrahim Danjuma?” Monica Arebu, the mother of the only female victim queried…Now I hear he has been reinstated and promoted. This is unfair,” she added. Mrs Arebu said all efforts geared towards appealing the judgment has been “slowed down by legal processes”.
The March 9, judgment by the FCT High Court on the matter can be appealed but it is only the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that can either appeal the ruling or issue an ‘extended fiat’ to another lawyer to go ahead with the appeal. Till the present, AGF Malami has not appealed the ruling. These details about the police force are necessary to understand what shapes perception about police operations in the country.
Besides, have we forgotten the gory tales that led to the #EndSARS protests, which threatened peace and security of the nation? How many police officers have been punished from the 2017-2020 #EndSARS revelations? Has the president fulfilled his promises to the youth he claimed he heard ‘loud and clear’ on their #End SARS 2020 simple demands including robust funding and restructuring of the police force? Are the police not back on the beats all over the country, especially in Lagos extorting the helpless and hapless road users under the guise of checking vehicle documents? Has the president responded to the governors of the federation’s demand for state police to manage security challenges?
Let’s therefore not weep for and about Officer Kyari. Let’s not ask for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for all of us to fight a good fight for electronic transmission of clean results in 2023. That is the only opportunity we can seize to have the police force we deserve. Even if we wade through the provisions of December 22, 1931 Extradition Treaty we have with the United States and Extradition Modification Order, 2014, Extradition Act Proceedings) Rules, 2015 and the AGF Malami succeeds in getting a court extradition order to get Kyari to face trial in the United States, that won’t affect police operations in Nigeria. Only a political will to reform and fund the police service will. It is certain that the current leadership in Nigeria isn’t ready for such radical changes in the operations of internal security in Nigeria. Weep, not for Kyari. Weep for the broken system that has produced him.
Inside stuff With Martins Oloja published ‘The Guardian’, Sunday August 1, 2021, Back Page