Three weeks ago, the Assistant Inspector-General of Police in charge of Zone 2, covering Lagos and Ogun States, Mr. Joseph Mbu, compromised his calling and the nation when he ordered his officers and men to “kill 20 civilians (in self defence) for every one policeman killed” in the forthcoming elections.
In a swift attempt to do damage control, the Inspector-General of Police, Suleiman Abba, had tried to pacify an angry nation by tacitly countering AIG Mbu’s satanic outburst by saying, “the Nigeria Police has a mandate to save and protect lives, and not to kill, contrary to recent statements in the media”.
But the IG’s damage control was yet to sink when AIG Mbu stirred a knife in the fresh wound he inflicted on the nation by boasting and insisting that “I stand by my word”. This is impunity, notoriety and insubordination taken to a sickening level.
Mbu’s insubordination against his boss and contempt for the Nigerian people are nothing compared to his defiance of the nation’s President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. President Goodluck Jonathan.
Last year, President Jonathan had assured the nation, “My ambition or the ambition of any Nigerian is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.” But the nation now has a cop impugning the promise of the President to his people by vowing to “kill 20 civilians for every one policeman killed”. Is Mbu greater than the State? Is he above the law? Is he greater than the President?
It is amazing that, two weeks after AIG Mbu denigrated the leadership of the State and the Nigeria Police, nothing has been done to rein him in. AIG Mbu’s antecedents in Rivers State and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, where he flagrantly undermined a sitting governor and the courts, and the #BringBackOurGirls campaigners respectively are still fresh in the memory of Nigerians. Is Mbu a tacit tool to be used to achieve what the powers that be cannot achieve directly?
AIG Mbu’s acts of insubordination and contempt for his employers, the Nigerian people, the President and the IG portray him as an officer unfit and improper to police the civil populace. But in the meantime, he should be confined to administrative duties before he makes good his plan to inflict on the country pogrom during the next elections.
By ordering and insisting that 20 civilians be killed for every policeman killed during the elections, is Mbu saying that if a miscreant acts alone by killing a policeman, policemen should kill him and 19 innocent civilians to justify his superior officer’s order? Is it part of the rule of self defence to waste 20 souls for every murdered policeman? What happens if a policeman kills a civilian in error? Civilians should kill 20 policemen in self defence?
Mbu’s act of insubordination against the IG and the seeming helplessness of the IG to rein in the notorious officer are an indication of the erosion of esprit de corps in the Nigeria Police and the rot into which the Force has sunk. Or is Mbu untouchable? Are the IG’s hands tied? Is there a higher authority backing Mbu at the expense of the Nigerian people?
It is unthinkable that a cop in a 21st century world would still be glorifying killing when nations the world over have moved away from the use of live bullets under whatever guise to use of tear gas, rubber bullets, Tasers to disperse and incapacitate crowds. As a partner in the drive toward global civility, the nation cannot be an exception.
The tacit statement Mbu and his backers are making to the Nigerian electorate under Mbu’s command is that they are not safe during the elections. And for a Force whose men are notorious for accidental discharge, the number of deaths to be expected in the course of “killing 20 civilians for every policemen killed” can only be imagined. Does Mbu have a brief to scare away South-west voters from the polls?
If peace, citizens’ security and statutory responsibility matter to the Nigeria Police, the IG must think of removing Mbu from his present posting for, if Lagos and, by extension, the South-west, go up in flames arising from the recklessness and foretold action of an officer, the IG and the Nigeria Police cannot escape blame.
The IG and AIG Mbu may have to borrow a leaf from Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, who, while briefing his officers on the forthcoming elections during the inspection of the Naval Bases in Lagos last week, warned, “If your action occasions the death of a civilian, there will be an immediate court-martial.” He reminded his officers, “Nigerians are the true owners of Nigerian Navy.”
Technology has made monitoring elections easy and achievable. Nigerians should go viral on the internet to expose the misdeeds of any policeman or any law enforecement agent, using their cell phones. Party leaders should also provide secret recording devices for this purpose. It is a better way to tie the hands of haters of credible elections rather than resulting to self help that may give unscrupulous security agencies the opportunity to kill innocent citizens. The fear of being caught alone, security experts say, will solve crime by more than 50 per cent.
There also is a need for all the political parties and political leaders to educate their followers to be law abiding during the elections. The experiences in Ghana and South Africa have shown that conduct of peaceful and credible polls devoid of intimidation by security and other agents of the state, is not strange to Africa. The nation portrays itself in bad light if it continues to stand the use of security during election on its head in the technology-driven 21st century and several years after its counterparts on the continent have got elections and democracy right.