Police versus journalists



By Ebere Wabara

I doubt if any Nigerian journalist/writer has done more laudatory articles on the police than this columnist. It is also apposite to mention that I had benefited immensely from two former Inspectors-General of Police, Barrister Tafa Balogun (a fellow Great Akokite) and Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, among other top officers like Frank Mba (at the critical instance of Chief Femi Adesina) and Taiwo Lakanu, two most distinguished officers and gentlemen. I have equally suffered police brutality via my abduction instigated by the former governor of Abia State, Theodore Ahamefule Orji, not too long ago.

The police and journalists are supposed to be friends, but it is a lingering contentious issue. I recollect how a colleague and friend of mine, Abayomi Ogundeji, was callously hacked down by the police in Lagos years back in curious circumstances that remain a mystery.

Before his dastardly extinction, he was on the Editorial Board of ThisDay. A few days preceding the horrible incident, we had discussed a new bank job he was going to take up as a corporate communications manager. Being in a similar position then, he had asked for my insider perspectives with regard to corporate intrigues, institutional challenges, information management in banks, remuneration and other dynamic accountabilities, which I joyfully explicated. I never knew that our comradeship which started in labour activism on the platform of the Lagos State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in its heyday would sadly come to an end abruptly shortly after that phone session.   

Last week in this column, I drew the attention of the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Ibrahim Idris and the Lagos State Police Commissioner Imohimi Edgal to the vicious and horrendous activities of a few policemen in Yaba and Surulere (particularly cops from Aguda and Ijeshatedo police stations)—and possibly other parts of Lagos.  On Monday morning, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in Aguda (no name mentioned) called me and sought to teach me fundamental principles of journalism! She said I should have contacted her for balance before going to Press. What effrontery! I giggled at the audacity. Did she think she was dealing with one rookie reporter or what? Even if it were so!

The next call came in and she asked me to come and see her or tell her where she could meet me, pointing out that the discussion was not a telephonic matter. Because of my schedule, the meeting could not hold. Later in the day, she called for the third and last time and declared with a hoarse voice (different from the earlier melody) that I published “lies they fed me” in my column “without cross-checking” and terminated the call on me in brazen crudity.  At the risk of immodesty, if I joined the police when I left the university, I would have been, at least, by now, an Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police. This is by the way. In the same breath—and without any vainglorious self-adulation—I can assert that in journalism, by the grace of God, I am on the quintessential verge of winding down consummately as a three-star General equivalence. My profound and robust career antecedents speak volumes. The records are in the public domain. No apologies for blowing my trumpet.

If the Aguda DPO had read my column between the lines, she would have known that, over time, I experienced and copiously witnessed most of last week’s reportage here. Additional information I got was merely tangential. Madam DPO, when relating with people you do not know or have never met exercise circumspection, professionalism and candour. My scholarship, career pedigree, reputational profile and maturity cannot allow me to engage in unwarranted scurrility or journalistic unprofessionalism. It should also interest Madam DPO, finally, that the columns I write are not occupational as I do not receive a dime for writing them. Writing for newspapers, for me, is an integral part of my intellectual development, public service and great fun. I have other gainful sources of livelihood that nourish my existential humanism, to God’s glory. Not forgetting my supportive, diligent and delectable accountant-wife.

Modern global policing is all about intelligence and all-round amity—no more brute force, power drunkenness and official rascality atop an adversarial architecture of colonial relics!


Daily Sun 26/03/2018