The Chairman, Coalition Against Corrupt Leaders, Mr. Debo Adeniran, tells BAYO AKINLOYE that Mbu is a menace to the society and as such should be redeployed to handle administrative duties
Many people have called for the sack or redeployment of the Assistant Inspector-General, Joseph Mbu, over his statement that for every policeman killed 20 civilians should be killed. What do you think?
It is very unfortunate that a supposed professional police officer of the calibre of Mr. Joseph Mbu could make such an inciting statement credited to him, which he is yet to deny. This development may, however, not be surprising going by Mba’s antecedent as the Commissioner of Police in Oyo and Rivers states as well as the Federal Capital Territory. Going by the Nigerian constitution and other extant laws including the Police Act, the police lack the power to determine who deserves to die. Even if the Police have the power to kill if somebody was killed, it is the person that committed the offence that is expected to face the penalty, not just anybody within the vicinity of the incident. Besides, vengeance is not what the Police Force is established to engage in. Therefore, it is not for the police to determine the number of people who should die if one of them dies. It would be rather barbaric and highly thoughtless of a police officer that is expected to be guided by professional ethics to make such a statement. A police officer is supposed to be first and foremost sympathetic to the cause of the people. He should safeguard lives and properties rather than destroy them in retaliation or in avenging the death of a colleague. As an Assistant Inspector General of Police, Mbu should be in a position to even curb or control the excesses of his junior colleagues from the Commissioner of Police and below, even if those people became overzealous and try to over-react to conflicts between the police and members of the public. We are suspecting that Mbu, by his utterances and actions, is advertising himself to the authority that he is a ready tool to be used for repressive activities in case the incumbent Inspector General of Police is acting too civilised and disciplined to do dirty jobs. He may also be sending a signal to the people that rather than peaceful and credible elections what they should expect in March and April is war.
The IG on last Saturday came out to counter the statement credited to Mbu. Isn’t that sufficient?
The counter-statement from the IG cannot be taken as sufficient since every police officer is granted the license to use their discretionary power to determine how they apply minimum or maximum force to curb internal strife. Also, the IG has not done anything concrete to call Mbu to order. Instead of Mbu to be reprimanded for his lacklustre performance in Oyo, Rivers and the FCT, he was rewarded with promotion. This seems to have shown that the police hierarchy is ready to tolerate the misdemeanours of its officers and Abba seems ready to protect his officers even when they engage in gross misconduct and misapplication of their discretions. Mbu has not been queried for his many excesses, let alone brought to justice. Thus, if the IG would be taken seriously, he should take a step further by redeploying Mbu from where he would have the opportunity of dealing directly or having direct contact with the members of the society. He should be redeployed to a place where he could only engage in administrative work within the office, because he has demonstrated that he does not have adequate training in methods, strategies, tactics and technicalities of relating directly with the public with the required high level of civility.
What do civil organisations like yours intend doing to ensure that the police and other security operatives do not harass or brutalise people during the forthcoming elections?
The best we can do is to call for sanity within the country’s security agencies. Therefore, if the excesses of Mbu are not brought under check, we may be forced to come out in street protests and write petitions to the international community to drive home our point. It must be noted that we have written the concerned authority to call the police authority and in particular, Joseph Mbu and those who might want to toe his path to order. Since we don’t have the prosecutorial power to challenge the appropriateness of Mbu’s order in court, we believe that the pressure we are going to mount on the police authority will be enough to bring Mbu under check so that he would not mislead his colleagues into believing that they can apply excessive force in maintaining law and order; engage in extrajudicial killing and get away with it. If an officer who makes such a scary statement is allowed to continue to lead other junior officers, every officer carrying a gun may be made to believe that they have the power to take lives without judicial pronouncement and get away with it.
Some have said Mbu’s statement is the official position of the Police and the Presidency because they didn’t come out to condemn him until after the public did. What is your take?
We wouldn’t say that it is an official position of the presidency. We also will not want to say so of the police authorities. But we believe that both the police authorities and the Presidency or the Federal Government are complicit in the statement Mbu made because of their loud silence on it. That the relevant authorities kept quiet means that they have shown approval to the provocative pronouncement of Mbu and such approval is reprehensible; it is uncalled for and preposterous. Even when the IG came out, he didn’t condemn the pronouncement neither did he show that he had invited Mbu for questioning over it. That pre-supposes that the AIG must have assumed some powers that no police officer is expected to have assumed. It has brought a permanent stain on professionalism and ethics meant to be exhibited by a high-ranking police officer of the AIG level. It is a known fact that Mbu enjoys the approval of the government and the police authorities because they have neither reprimanded nor condemned him for his past actions and his recent pronouncements. It’s the body language of the government that led to that pronouncement that could lead to anarchy.
Considering the pronouncements and actions of the security agents in the country now, do you see them being non-partisan?
Pronouncements by the nation’s security operatives have shown that they are partisan against the people; and it has been demonstrated in the few places where elections took place, that all security agents were out to coerce the people into obeying the ruling class or force the will of the ruling class on the people by all means. They have demonstrated that they are not out to secure peace and tranquillity during elections. This was accentuated even by the audio recording of a plot in Ekiti State hatched to rig the preferred candidate of the ruling party into office. It also happened in Osun State where over 70,000 armed personnel were deployed to secure the state even while some of them were hooded and opposition leaders were hounded and arrested indiscriminately without reason. This has shown graphically that the security services in Nigeria are partisan and this is an unhealthy development within the polity. They should by now, know that they do not have the intelligence capacity to detect plots to foment trouble in Nigeria. They do not have the technical capacity to identify people that may incite and carry out trouble within the country.
SOURCE: The Punch.