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Mixed metaphors: Nigeria’s shiny new police boss

I applaud Nigeria’s Acting Inspector-General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun. By the sound of him alone, he may be the jewel Nigerians have hoped for.

He describes himself as a “tiger” roaring “to chase away all criminals in Nigeria and like a lion ready to devour all the enemies of the country.”

I could not be prouder of a professional policeman with such a noble motivation. Within weeks of his arrival, he has demonstrated considerable courage, deploying 35 new police commissioners around the country, who presumably believe in his philosophy.

He has withdrawn members of the Mobile Police Force attached to private citizens.

“Specifically, we shall effect the withdrawal of PMF personnel from VIP escort and guard duties,” he said.  “While the protection of dignitaries remains paramount, it is imperative that we realign our priorities to address the escalating security challenges faced by the nation as a whole.

“By relieving the PMF of VIP escort and guard duties, we can redirect their focus and efforts toward addressing critical security concerns that affect our communities at large.”

Mr Egbetokun is absolutely right.  A part of the reason that Nigeria policing does not work is that the police force has effectively been privatised so that policemen provide security for privileged or paying citizens and institutions.  The remaining officers acquire—or at least appear to have been trained to maintain—a hostile relationship with the rest of society that they are supposed to protect.

To correct this, the new IG must commit to training and re-orientation.  The maintenance of law and order, which is the basic duty of the police, is on behalf of everyone and can only work if that is the mission definition.

The second reason why policing in Nigeria has collapsed is the absence of accountability in any officer. Any policeman can shoot any citizen or run his car over him on the open street and no reporting or documentation is required. That is nonsense and it compounds the mission.

Section 69 (1) of the Nigeria Police Act 2020 says, “On the last working day of every month, an officer in charge of a police station must report to the nearest magistrates the cases of all arrests made without warrants in his jurisdiction, whether the suspects have been admitted to bail or not.”

Even if this were being practised, it is insufficient.  The “report” must be comprehensive and in writing. All reports must be collated and sent upstairs progressively, the commissioners receiving weekly reports to enable them to write monthly accounts so that the IG has 12 of them each year. And he must then publish an annual report that would include clear statistics of all police deployment and activities nationwide.

This is a self-monitoring system that will help the police force, as a system, to help itself, and I commend it to IG Egbetokun. But given that he has demonstrated such exemplary independence and ambition so far, will the APC — I mean, Senate — confirm him?

On October 5, 2017, the Federal Government handed to Mr Babatunde Fashola, the Minister of Works and Housing, a N100bn Sukuk bonds cheque to construct these 25 roads. The completion dates were from December 2017 to September 2018.

On July 20, 2020, Ms Zainab Ahmed, the then Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, presented to Mr Fashola a sovereign Sukuk symbolic cheque of N162.557bn for the construction of roads.

In November 2021, Mr Fashola said the Sukuk funds were supporting 44 roads across the country.

On February 6, 2023, in Abuja, Ms Ahmed presented another Sukuk cheque of N130 billion to Works and Housing and observed that the government had invested over N612.557 billion from the bonds in “key economic road projects” nationwide.

By Mr Fashola’s admission in November 2018, he saw the budget of Works grow from a modest N18.132 billion in 2015 to N394 billion in 2018. It is well documented that a lot of recovered Abacha loot was also deployed to road projects during his eight years.

So, where are the completed roads Nigeria, Sukuk-funded projects included? And why are there so many bad federal roads?

The National Social Register, by which the Buhari administration claimed to have helped Nigeria’s poorest, is crooked, the National Economic Council said last week. “We…don’t have a credible register,” Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo told journalists.

Somewhere, Buhari’s minister, Ms Ahmed, is adjusting her jewellery. New magicians, please

And now let me see if I have this story straight. In July 2011, one Mrs Stella Oduah became Minister of Aviation, a position she would hold for three years. During that period, she was exposed as having lied in the resume presented to the Senate for her confirmation, with American authorities affirming that the schools she listed for her degrees either did not exist or did not award such certificates.

She was then fired by her friend, President Goodluck Jonathan, after she was scandalously exposed as having purchased two bullet-proof luxury vehicles at a cost of $1.5m.

In 2015, the following year, the good people of Anambra North, in their wisdom, elected her to the Senate on the platform of the PDP. Among others, this good fortune meant that she was one of those who, that year, received an official “loan” to buy an expensive car. It also means that in 2016 as a Senator, she received from the Senate a Toyota Landcruiser SUV, at the cost of N35.6m, twice its actual cost.

Facing re-election in 2018, she left the PDP for APGA, saying it was “the beginning of a new political chapter,” only to return to the PDP just three months later, slamming the APGA ideology as a “mirage.”

In August 2021, Ms Oduah again abandoned the PDP and joined the ruling APC, the party which proclaimed itself as forgiving all sinners; eight months later, in July 2022, she defected yet again, rejoining PDP.

The year 2021 was also when the Pandora Papers, a massive leak of international financial documents, exposed how Ms Oduah secretly acquired about seven mansions in London, paying billions in cash.

In March 2023, the Senator lost her coveted Anambra North Senate seat to Tony Nwoye of Labour, the only party in Anambra she had never flirted with.

This weekend, the EFCC arraigned Ms Oduah, ex-PDP, ex-APGA, ex-APC, former Minister and former Senator, at the Federal High Court in Abuja along with eight others, including construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, on 25 counts of laundering N7.9 billion in public funds.

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