Joseph Mbu is not the first Nigerian to be designated assistant inspector-general (AIG) of police, but he is certainly the first to demean that position in word and deed. Right from his tenure as commissioner of police in Rivers State, during which time he achieved notoriety for barricading one of the entrances to the Government House and openly taking sides with the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he has always operated as a lone ranger, above the heads of his professional bosses at Force Headquarters. Perhaps as a reward for being a thorn in the flesh of perceived opponents of his Abuja puppeteers, he was made AIG and recently posted to the South West, which is considered a stronghold of the opposition.
During his recent visit to Abeokuta, Ogun State, Mbu openly incited his men against the public with his utterances. For a police force whose lower cadre is characterised by extra-judicial behaviour, Mbu’s declaration that “If one of my men is killed, I shall kill 20 of them, but don’t shoot first. If they shoot you, shoot back in self-defence. Anybody who fires you, fire him back in self-defence…” is, to say the least, primitive.
Before the Abeokuta incident, Mbu had demonstrated a lack of regard for the law when he arrested a journalist with the African Independent Television (AIT) for describing him as controversial. Of late, he forced his way through the Lekki Toll Plaza without paying and then ordered the arrest of policemen and workers at the plaza. That kind of behaviour is what earned Emperor Bokassa a place in the book of infamy today. Apparently, Mbu is incapable of learning from history.
If a senior policeman could be as treasonably irresponsible as Mbu has proved to be, one can imagine the level of impunity that would be exhibited by those serving under him. An embarrassed Inspector General of Police (IGP) Suleiman Abba has tried to do some damage control by warning that every policeman must exercise caution in his dealings with the public and must demonstrate “tact, patience and tolerance and the control of his temper in trying situations.” Commendable as that is, it is clear that Mbu’s real controllers are outside the Force Headquarters. History has taught us that his arrogant partisanship is bound to recoil like a snake on its charmer. The book of infamy is replete with his type. In the Second Republic, we had the likes of Bishop Eyitene.
However, we appreciate the effort of the IGP in trying to ensure that the police come out clean with their image intact after the elections and commend the code of conduct for police officers reeled out recently. We also hope that the force high command will implement that policy meticulously enough to rein in characters like Mbu.