HOW I TAMED AMAECHI -MBU

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Within his short stay at the Zone II Police Command in charge of Lagos and Ogun states, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mbu Joseph Mbu, has been in the eye of the storm. He speaks on this tag and other issues in this interview with BIYI ADEGOROYE
Can you give us an insight into what the people of Lagos and Ogun states, which are under Zone II, should expect during your tenure?
You know my antecedents. I’m passionate about my job and committed to the discharge of my duties. This I will do very well. First and foremost, I will start with my policemen. From what I have seen so far, many of them are not disciplined, so I will ensure I revive that in the zone. The other day I was going round, I saw some policemen in mufti; some wore bathroom slippers and were carrying AK-47 rifles. That is the custom of armed robbers and such appearance terrifies members of the public.
Even if policemen are going for covert operations, they should be well-dressed and combat ready, so that if there is any incident they can spin out. I see some of them who do not even play complements to their superior officers and so on. Sometimes, some of them will see even their Assistant Commissioner of Police or Commissioner of Police flying the pennant, yet they fail to give complement. That is very wrong. If I catch any of them, they will pay dearly for it. Also, I will never forgive policemen who break the law.
As law enforcement officers, we must also obey the law and live exemplary lives. Abuse of power and firearms will not be tolerated at all. Civilians must be law abiding. Everybody must obey the law. Anyone who wants to take the laws into his hands will be dealt with accordingly. And to criminals, armed robbers and the like, I will say that as part of my policy, we don’t nurture criminals whether as armed robbers or others who commit any offence. Hence, I have directed my Commissioners of Police to deal ruthlessly with all confirmed and proven cases of armed robbery. By that I am not saying they should take the law into their hands; rather that they should allow the law to take its course.
Elections are around the corner. What are your plans for effective security before, during and after the elections?
We have drawn our plans to ensure effective policing before, during and after the elections. I am meeting with the CPs, Area Commanders, and Commanders of various Mobile Police Squads, Commanders of Counter-terrorism squads in the states. I am leading them. The other day I was visiting a dignitary in Lagos during the rally of the All Progressives Congress and I saw some hoodlums with machetes and cudgels. I was shocked and as an AIG, I will not tolerate it. This kind of thing must not happen here at all. Politicians and their loyalists should play politics with decency. The police are going to use every legal means to deal with anybody found with offensive weapons designed to cause injury to people during the elections. We are also preparing for post-election violence.
You know we are also going to work with sister security agencies and tell them the role they are going to play in the elections. They are going to play supportive roles in this regard. I am going to meet the General Officer Commanding, the Air Officer and the Flag Officer – two-star generals – and we will work out how the military will aid and support us during the period. I am going to meet with all the stakeholders, the political leaders in the zone and where necessary read the Riot Act to them; that they have to adhere very strictly to the rules of the game. Politics is not a door- die affair. They have to refrain from criminality during and after the elections. I will let them know that they will be held responsible for the actions of their followers who cause mayhem on their behalf.
Did you take any action in respect of those you saw over the weekend?
No. We were passing on high speed, but I have directed the Commissioner of Police in Lagos to liaise with his Area Commander and the Divisional Police Officer to give me a report on why such hooligans were moving around like that in that area when the rally was rounding off.
Given the centrality of intelligence gathering to effective policing, how do you intend to integrate this into your operations?
We don’t work in a vacuum. Wherever I work, I take that seriously. We have a lot of informants and I even inherited some from my predecessor. My intelligence officers are also on ground and they are supporting me. We will rely on such intelligence for effective policing.
There was apprehension as soon as your posting to Lagos was announced. That was evidently connected to your brush with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, a state also under the control of the APC. The feeling is that you are here for a hatchet job?
The apprehension that I will work against the interest of the APC is unfounded and I think that was a fallout of the incidents in Rivers State. Interestingly, until now, nobody has bothered to asked me what happened there; and it is because I have no money to sell my side of the story. The question people should ask is this: ‘Why should the Rivers State governor have problems with Mbu?’
The fact is that I have been privileged to serve as commissioner of police in different states and my mark in these places remains indelible. I was Director of Police Education, I reorganised the whole place. It was from there that the former Inspector General of Police, Mr. M. D. Abubakar, moved me to re-organise the Police Mobile Force, from where he transferred me to Oyo State.
When I got there, robbery was very high, but I reduced it drastically. You will remember that I arrested many kidnappers, even those who took their hostages to the state. When Gen. Oluwole Rotimi’s wife was kidnapped, I rescued her and arrested the kidnappers. Also, I recovered many stolen vehicles. When I was there, the first thing I did was to repair many police vehicles. I started by repairing 13 Armoured Personnel Carriers. The Bankers Forum assisted me and later the government came in. I have the facts and I will give them to you.
The information got to the IGP and he gave me a letter of commendation. People don’t know why the IGP likes me. Apart from the APCs, I repaired 17 operational vehicles, including Hilux, that were set for auctioning. In the same Oyo State, which is an APC state, in April 2013, at the launching of the Code of Conduct in Abuja, Governor Abiola Ajimobi came up openly and told the whole world that I was the best commissioner of police that had ever worked with him. I also remember that in April 2013, the Oyo State House of Assembly wrote to the IGP that they wanted to honour me as the best commissioner of police who brought peace and absolute equanimity to the state. Earlier, on December 24, 2012, when we were holding the state security meeting, Governor Ajimobi, a much civilised governor, looked at the General Officer Commanding, the Air Officer Commanding and other members, and asked: “Gentlemen, are we in Ibadan? This is December 24, and there is no bank robbery or any other robbery? Let us appreciate the Commissioner of Police.”
Now let me come to the main point. The APC people in Lagos, not APC in general, who are accusing and attacking me with all kinds of vituperations that I was sent here to act a script, let me go down memory lane. I can recall when I was posted to Oyo State, I was told the governor observed that there were lots of criminals in the state and that he wanted a very tough and high-handed Commissioner of Police there. Interestingly, we disagreed at the beginning over the composition of Operation Burst – the anti-robbery outfit in the state. For about a month, we were not on talking terms. The outfit was reconstituted and the police constituted over 90 per cent of the personnel. There were these groups of National Union of Road Transport Workers, whose leaders, Tokyo and Auxiliary, were demi-gods and thought they were above the law. We got information that they were coming to destabilise the state. We told them we were there for peace and anyone who dared my policemen would be dealt with.
This was then an ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) state; yet we rose and declared the two of them wanted for murder, since there were allegations against them. I arrested, detained and charged them to court. They were granted bail and a new NURTW executive was sworn in. Was I working for PDP then? Was it not an APC state? Also, when I was there, I visited the Alaafin of Oyo and he complained that the police were chickenhearted, that we could not enforce the law. He said that the former government, in order to disgrace him, appointed one man as Asipa but when he was removed by the court, the judgment was not enforced. And even when the Asipa went to Court of Appeal, the appeal was not in his favour. Previous commissioners of police were lily-livered to enforce the court judgment.
The governor was in Hong Kong. He called me and complained that the Alaafin was not talking to him, t h a t t h e O b a w a s b i t t e r that he had been humiliated in the whole of Oyo by that inaction. Upon hearing this, I met with the Commissioner for Justice and my legal team looked into the court judgment and resolved that we could go ahead to enforce it. On January 31, 2013, I put a call to the Asipa and told him to stop parading himself as such. The next day, I went there with some gallant officers and we discovered that he had left the place honourably. I ask you again, was I working for PDP or ACN then?
Number three, information came that Senator Teslim Folarin, a former Senate Leader, had arms and thugs in his house. I took my men there in mufti and conducted an effective search, with a view to arresting whoever was found culpable. PDP never accused me of working for APC then. Now, you have heard my case, is it fair to demonise me this way? Do you know that when I was there, the Commissioner’s Quarters was like a forest?
The police headquarters too was in a bad shape, but with government’s assistance, we transformed those places. Throughout my stay, there was no armed robbery. The only robbery attempt we had was repelled. DPO Sani mounted an APC, pursued the robbers and drove them off. That was the only robbery incident in the state during my tenure. Go and check my records. So, for APC in Lagos to have started demonising me, even before seeing me, but relying on propaganda they were fed from Rivers State by that governor, that very arrogant governor that I tamed, is unfortunate.
What was actually the thrust of your brush with Governor Amaechi?
I think that is an issue for another day. But one thing I can tell you is that the governor had no respect for my office as the Commissioner of Police. On four occasions, he sent his orderly to me and I told the ADC never to call my line again; that the governor should call me. Other service commanders were complaining of a similar treatment, but I did not talk to them because everyone has his own style. Second, when the governor started, he was not treating us with courtesy and respect.
He did so as if I was his orderly. He would say: “CP, CP CP. Look, do you know what is happening here?” I now called him and said: “Your Excellency, you are the governor of Rivers State and I am the Commissioner of Police in Rivers State. You are the de jure chief security officer of the state and I am the de facto chief security officer of the state.
At the state security meeting, you are the chairman and I am your deputy. In your absence, I chair the meeting. When you are talking to me, let there be some decorum, like: “How are you, my CP? How is the state?’ You see, in Oyo State, the governor called me “my brother,” and “my CP.” When I visited Governor Raji Fashola the other day, he was courtesous. He asked me ‘How are you my AIG, how is your family?’ That is the way it should be. I told Governor Amaechi that we are not in a master-servant relationship and that is the way it should be. That was another point. Number three, I don’t know about his problem with the First Lady. You see, I didn’t know the First Lady physically other than sighting her on television. I had not met her physically, but as the Commissioner of Police, I was dutybound to provide security for her each time she visited the state.
That also included anyone I was called upon from Abuja to provide security for; let alone the wife of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He got angry each time I went to receive the President’s wife. Number four. I didn’t know the former Minister of State for Education, Nyesom Wike, until PDP had a crisis in the state. There was a judgment and I was directed by the IGP to ensure that everyone was protected. I disobeyed my boss.
I could not have disobeyed a lawful instruction from the IGP. This is not new in police duties. When I was in Oyo State, each time the Minister of State for Federal Capital Territory,Oloye Jumoke Akinjide, was coming home, I provided security for her until she went back. There was never a day Governor Ajomobi questioned my actions. He never did. He is not that petty. And I told Governor Amachi that: “Your Excellency, your enemy is not my enemy.” It was the same thing I told Governor Ajimobi in Oyo State. I said that if former Governor Alao-Akala invited me, I would go; ditto for former governor Rashidi Ladoja. But when they start to talk politics, I would leave. Ajimobi holds that state spell-bound.
He called me on many issues and I advised him on how to handle them very well. But the governor in Rivers State is so arrogant, so full of himself. And come to think of it…I reserve my comment. But let me tell you, I am highly regarded in Rivers State. Go to the Commissioner of Police’s Quarters in the state and you will bear me witness. I like good things, I like decency and you will see how I displayed this in the rehabilitation and beautification of the place while I spent six months in the IGP’s Guest House there. I changed the roof to modern sheets, changed the louvre blade windows to flushed ones, just like I did in Oyo.
While the rehabilitation was on, passersby appreciated it and gave us financial support. I don’t know why he is fighting me; I don’t know the President, why would I go to see him? I am not ambitious and I am not the IGP. The only time I spoke to the President was during the burial of his mother-in-law, because I was one of those who conveyed her corpse from the mortuary. One of the relations brought the phone to me, saying: “Mr. President wants to speak to you.” I asked: “Which President?” and they said: “The President of Nigeria.”
I told him that “everything is going on fine Sir” and he thanked me. I put that date in my diary; that I spoke with Mr. President on phone today. You see, I am a professional police officer; I do not lobby for posting or appointment. As a matter of fact, I am often posted to areas where things are going wrong in order for me to rectify them. But for the fact that I am in the force, I would not have come to Lagos. I was enjoying myself in Abuja, the seat of government, but it is posting and I have no choice. I am here to maintain peace and order, and I am telling you that in these elections, anyone, any member of any party – PDP or APC – who foments trouble, we will crush him. Any of my officers who compromises, his job will be on the line.
You said you tamed Amaechi. How?
I made him to respect us. Before I got there, no Commissioner of Police had the courage to tell him that most of those things he was doing were wrong and improper. For instance, he used to ask his police orderly, an acting ASP to call me and sometimes, the orderly asked some silly and inappropriate questions on security issues that should be discussed directly with his principal. I stopped that and he started calling me. I also insisted that before any state security council meeting, a circular was issued, containing minutes of previous meeting and agenda for the next .
I also informed him that after each security meeting I was expected to send a copy of the meeting to the IGP so that he would be abreast of security situation in the state, as it is done in all states in the country. You know he hates due process and these were the points. That was why he started to blackmail me. It is a fact that victims of political megalomania look at issues as if they are demi-gods. I am not a police chief who is afraid of being reported to the IGP, or one who is scared of being posted anywhere.
What actually transpired at one of those Lekki toll gates in Lagos where you reportedly ordered the arrest of some policemen and a toll collector last week?
Oh, that is an interesting one. My brother, you see, people are very mischievous. I came into town and you know with the threat already on the ground that if I am not careful, this and that will happen… As I came in, I was looking for a place to lodge and we passed the toll gate at Admiralty Circle and returned after about three minutes. When I was returning from work, we did the same thing. This was penultimate Wednesday.
On Thursday again, on my way to work in the morning, I don’t know what happened, we spent some time there and went to work. On my way back, we got there and waited for about five minutes and I asked my boys: ‘What is the matter?” They said we must pay tolls and I said: “Why? It is unheard of. I have never heard where police and all service men pay tolls in this country.”
Then I said one of the toll operators should be arrested. Then some policemen came and I asked them, “Are you on my escort?” They said “no,” but that they were on security duties at the toll gate. Then I said: “My policemen are here and the AIG of the zone is being humiliated?” Then I ordered their arrest and detention at Maroko Police Station for act of indiscipline and disloyalty. I also asked that the toll operator be charged to court. Assuming we were going for an emergency or on a rescue operation, was that the way they would have delayed us? The following day, I was going to see the Oba of Lagos, a retired AIG in Zone 7, from where I came here. It is a thing of joy that one of us is now a traditional ruler of such status. The APC presidential candidate was also coming on that day. So I allowed him to leave before I saw the Oba.
He said I should have been at the visit but I told him I did not want to interrupt his guest. We exchanged pleasantries and laughed and I left. When I came back to the office, one man who identified himself as an ex-police officer and CSO of Lekki Concession Company visited me. He said: “Sorry Sir, my men embarrassed you at the toll gate yesterday.” I expressed my anger over the incident and he apologised. As if I knew, I asked him whether he wanted me to release them and he said “yes.” I asked him to put his apology in writing and give it to any of my officers and that we would release them. I left and when I got to the toll gate, because of what happened, they allowed us to pass go through. I got home only for Oba of Lagos to call me and pleaded that I kindly release them and I did. He even apologized to me. Yes. So I called the CP to release the men, but that he should deal with the policemen. I told him that for the records, he should ask the DPO to make an entry that because of the intervention of the Oba of Lagos, I forgave the policemen and the toll collector.
He did that and they were released. Shocking enough, on January 31, when I was going through the dailies, I saw a half page advert in the PUNCH by the Lekki Concession Company, about a passionate complaint to the IGP for the release of toll operators, arrested and detained by AIG Zone II. These were people who were released a day earlier. I was flabbergasted, shocked and dumbfounded. I was dumbfounded. I called the Oba, “Your Majesty, do you have a copy of PUNCH today? Please, open to Page 39 and see what they published.”
Unknown to me, The Nation also quoted the Oba, that while he was receiving the APC presidential candidate as saying: ‘We cannot be intimidated, Oba of Lagos warns AIG.’ This was the person I was with the previous day. On the strength of this, I have decided to be very careful. I called the DPO Maroko and asked him to check the papers and he did. Since he was privy to what transpired, he said: “Sir, this is mischievous. This is blackmail.”
Source: New Telegraph

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