Tribune Online: The Lagos Police Probe Panel

THE newly-appointed Commissioner of Police (CP) in Lagos State, Imohimi Edgar, has ordered the interrogation and investigation of a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), Akinade Adejobi, for several alleged crimes. CSP Adejobi, until his recent travails, was the officer-in-charge of the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Unit in the Lagos State command. Olatunji Disu, the commander in charge of Rapid Response Squad, has been mandated to look into the allegations of bribery and s3xual harassment levelled against Adejobi and some of his men by a complainant, Blessing Taiwo, and Florence, her sister. Taiwo was reportedly arrested and detained at the Anti-kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Unit over an alleged theft of $50,000 belonging to one Mrs. Abiola Osagie. The policemen attached to the unit were alleged to have demanded for a bribe of N70, 000 before she could be granted bail. In addition, some of the officers, it was alleged, s3xually molested Florence while she took food to her sister in detention. It is noteworthy that the complaint at issue had initially been lodged at Ikoyi police station where investigation is yet to confirm Taiwo’s culpability. A dissatisfied Osagie apparently forum-shopped for a pliable police unit and officers who would validate her accusation willy-nilly.

It is heartening, however, that in addition to ordering the probe of the alleged misconduct of the policemen involved in the matter, Edgar has also directed that the complaint of theft brought by Mrs. Osagie against Taiwo be moved back to Ikoyi police station. The investigation being conducted by the Ikoyi police station was described as excellent before the somewhat hasty transfer of the case to the state Criminal Investigation Department. Edgar’s swift response to complaints of misconduct against some of his officers and men is commendable and if the rapid reaction is complemented by a thorough and objective treatment of the complaints, Lagos State may be in for a stronger and more impactful policing. The police top hierarchy at the centre as well as members of the public do not expect anything less from the commissioner judging by where he is coming from. As the immediate past Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations in the state, Edgar is certainly aware of the rot in the police in the state and now that the buck stops at his table, he is in pole position to correct personnel-related anomalies, among other infractions that have made efficient and effective policing somewhat impracticable in the state.

Against this backdrop, the recent press release by the CP that heads of departments, area commanders and divisional police officers would be held accountable for the misconduct of their officers and men is heartwarming. This will hopefully ginger officers in positions of responsibility to provide quality leadership and closely monitor their staff. It is strongly believed that many of these unit heads usually give tacit approval to the misconduct of their subordinates, only to leave them in the lurch when the chips are down. That is expected to stop with the message in the press release.The seeming premium being placed by the CP on whipping erring police personnel into line and restoring professionalism among officers and men in the state shows that he recognises the need to quickly get down to brass tacks. We urge the CP to treat complaints with dispatch to encourage other members of the public with complaints to come forward and thereby put policemen in the state on their toes so that they can begin to shun malpractices.

Without prejudice to the outcome of the further investigation on the theft case mandated by the CP at Ikoyi police station, it is important to stress that it is unconscionable for some Nigerians to always want to seek redress from the agents of law-enforcement institutions and even the courts where they believe they can get their own pre-determined version of justice. For instance, it was absolutely wrong of Mrs. Osagie to have transferred a complaint of theft from a regular police station to the Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Cultism Unit and it was equally unprofessional of the unit to have agreed to handle the matter. Nonetheless, the Ikoyi police station is urged to conduct a thorough and dispassionate investigation into the alleged $50,000 theft without regard to the antecedents of the complainant in the case. Also, the Disu-led probe panel should leave no stone unturned in unearthing the veracity or otherwise of the allegations against Adejobi and his colleagues. The CP, on the other hand, has a duty to ensure that the outcome of the investigation is made public while the culprits, if any, are promptly made to face the wrath of the law.

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