‘The Police should be properly organised, reoriented and trained’
Expressing undying passion for the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Sir Samuel Ayodele Adetuyi, a retired Commissioner of Police, who is launching his autobiography today in Akure, titled: “Policing in Nigeria: My Story,” tells an entirely different story from the dark tales the society tells about the police. He speaks with Oluwaseun Akingboye in Akure.
Birthday anniversaries, to some people, is a time for exchange of pleasantries and a buffet party; while for some like Salome, the ostentatious daughter of Herod, it is a season to demand odd gifts like the head of John de Baptist. But for Sir Samuel Ayodele Adetuyi, it is a retrospective moment to demand a more virile Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to mark his 70th birthday.
Adetuyi, a retired Commissioner of Police (CP), though with massive grey hair, but still vibrant with the agility of a youth, had the 840th month yesterday as he was born on September 8, 1947 in Okitipupa, the headquarters of Okitipupa Local Council of Ondo State.
Several acquaintances that knew him in service, as a police officer, who rose through the ranks to become a CP before he retired in 2007after 35 years in active service, would have thought he had dreamt from childhood to become a police officer. But little did they know that he had wanted to be a classroom teacher.
He attended Methodist Primary School, Okitipupa from 1955 to 1957, and travelled to stay with his maternal uncle in Abeokuta, where he finished the elementary studies at St John’s Primary School, Igbehin, Abeokuta in Ogun State. He was one of the pioneer students of Stella Maris College, Okitipupa in 1961.
Choosing a career?
Though I had got a job at the Department of Forest Research in Ibadan and later trained as a stenographer, which I did not like, the pursuit for chalk and blackboard took me to Lagos State, where I got enlisted into the Nigeria Police Force as a Cadet Inspector on February 1, 1972.
Why did you join the police?
When I left secondary school, I really wanted to go to the university, take a degree and go back to my school to teach. But events changed all that. As a young man in our days and my locality, it was not fashionable to say you wanted to join the police. I had a phobia for police, but one day when I was in Lagos, I had an encounter with a young police officer whose appearance and act of professionalism I marvelled at. I so appreciated him that I felt like I could also be like him because he was also a very young officer, maybe slightly above my age and already an officer, which was very rare then.
This newly found passion made me Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of Ondo State Criminal Investigation Department, the Deputy Commissioner for Police (DCP), Administration at the Police Academy in Kano State; the DCP, Delta State, where I was elevated to CP Personnel and moved to be CP in Kogi State, Yobe State and Rivers State where I retired on February 1, 2007.
Retired but not tired to become a lawyer at 60?
Yes, the love for more knowledge propelled me to pursue a law degree at Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko for the 2007/2008 academic session and graduated June 2011with a Second Class Upper Division in Law, winning five academic prizes including the best graduating student of the Faculty of Law, AAUA.
I was called to the Nigerian Bar after law school in Enugu State on November 28, 2013 and operate a law firm:Adetuyi&Olofinbinu Partners; and represented the Association of Retired Police Officers of Nigeria (ARPON), South West as a delegate in March 2014 National Conference held in Abuja.
Do you have any regrets joining the police?
I don’t hide the fact that at a time in my life I was a policeman. I have never hidden it and I am proud that I was a policeman. There is no organisation in the country that has self-cleansing mechanism like the police.
What motivated you to write the book?
Most Nigerians are not familiar with the terrain and inner workings of what an average policeman faces everyday. My main purpose of writing this book is that I am telling in actual fact all that happened for most part of 35 years; members of the public who want to be objective will be able to say that even the police are going through this hardship.
They will be able to appreciate that the police needs the help and cooperation of the public if they are to succeed; that is my main focus, so that the public, even the government would know that the police go through all manners of hardship, yet they are able to perform. This will remove all let and hindrances to build a more cordial relationship for outmost performance.
Are you saying there is no misdemeanor within the police?
No, I wouldn’t say that; but as far as I am concerned, it has not reduced my impression that a policeman on a daily basis contributes enormously to the sustenance of this country. That they are behaving in that manner is not because they are policemen but they find themselves in an environment that makes it compulsory for them to do what they are doing.
The book is to disabuse the minds of the public about the police. I frown at indiscipline and indecency among the officers; but the poor state of the police, infrastructural decay, poor training, moribund facilities and zero-approach to technology and innovations encourage most of the wrong acts.
If we compare policing system here in Nigeria, you will agree with me that we are far behind the technological know-how available in advanced countries, where police officers cannot mount road blocks and can easily detect any crime-motivated moves without poising any nuisance.
But in Nigeria, because we are still using analogue system in a digital age, that is why we having the problem we are having. So, the government and people must create an environment for the police. That is when all these things we are seeing will vanish.
We must not forget that the police are part of the Nigerian society where nothing seems to work. It will be uncharitable to single out the police and say policemen are corrupt and bad when the entire system stinks with corruption.
What do you think government should do to enhance police efficiency?
Government should prioritize training, infrastructural development and reward performances. Though Federal Character Commission is instituted to ensure fairness across the states, it must not be to the detriment of merit. People who are working must be adequately compensated.
Government must provide the necessary environment to enhance the professionalism of the police. Animals like dogs and horses should be intensely procured and trained; what these animals can do, you will discover five policemen may not be able to do them in terms of crime detection and control.
The police work is not just a human related organisation alone; equipment, training, motivation and respect for the police are necessary. If I find my way back to the police, these are the things I will emphasize wherever I have the command of policemen under me.
What is your take on community policing?
It has always been there. Most people, when you use a language that appears verbose, everybody thinks it is a new thing. It is nothing more than a participation in policing by the members of the public and the police. Public Police Partnership (PPP), that is what it is all about.
The issue of community policing being a new concept, as far as I am concerned, is not true. It has always been with us; just that over time, people believe if you tell police something, they will tell the criminal.
It is the consciousness of the people about what happens around them like it has been there since I was young. Whenever people came to the community, everybody kept tab on strangers, welcomed them, familiarized with them, took them to the community head and enquired to know the purpose of their visit to the community.
I am not saying it never happened, but they are rare and I see it as a behavioural defect. I had cause to speak with people about this, at the end you find out that that was what they were told; and somebody also told someone who told the person that hinted them. And you have an endless chain of ‘I was told.’ People have not taken advantage of the fact that you can call the police if you are in distress.
I know there might be some gap between the police and the public; it shouldn’t be, but it is not as bad as it is being projected. And whether or not it is as bad, there is no alternative, if we are to sanitize the society, we must cooperate with the police. Otherwise, the situation will degenerate and we will all be the losers.
What are your for pastimes?
With a grip never to lose the air of youthfulness and vitality, I engage in physical exercises, writing, counselling, community leadership and serve in several dispute resolution committees in my community to keep soul and body together. Also, I am the President, Old Students Association of Stella Maris College (SMC), Okitipupa; Akure chapter. I have many activities to keep me going.
What do you want to be remembered for?
Integrity. I want to be remembered for integrity because that is one of the things that is lacking in our society today and why Nigeria is like this. People do not see integrity as a great value to be protected.
What is your birthday wish?
What I will like to have as a birthday gift is a process not a fiat of restructuring; the police should be properly organised, reoriented and trained; their mindset should be such like when we were in the police in the 70s, who will know their responsibilities and what are not their responsibilities.
Of course, the police must be independent of government. So that if the police want to act, they will not be incapacitated by the whims and caprices of government and politicians.