Call AIG Mbu to order
SINCE it is now clear that the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone Two, Mr. Mbu Joseph Mbu, cannot set the limit to his own excesses, it is incumbent on his employers, the police authorities, to urgently do so, and rein him in. As a very senior police officer, Mbu’s disposition, actions and utterances are lacking in the refinement expected of a public officer in his station, and he is not showing himself an exemplar of the discipline and order that he is supposed to enforce among the citizenry.
Although Mbu had been a police commissioner in Oyo and Ekiti, little was known about him outside those states where he operated. But as a police commissioner in Rivers State, he jarred public consciousness with his impolitic utterances and actions. And in the Federal Capital Territory where he was the police chief before his elevation to the position of AIG, he retained his belligerent streak. There, even before he settled down to his job, he briskly threw a journalist into detention for merely describing him as controversial.
Now, Mbu is the AIG overseeing the policing of Lagos and Ogun states, and by his words and actions, he does not seem to be prepared to change his ways. Yet, Mbu is better advised that the sophistication and cosmopolitan outlook of the people of the two states over which he has his brief make them less unwilling to brook any act from a senior police officer that may well become a threat to public peace and order. Ironically, despite his aggressive disposition, Mbu has not only been retained in sensitive postings, but has even been promoted, culminating to his recent elevation to the post of AIG. But if the police authorities had paid scant regard to his unacceptable behaviour up till now, this is the time to watch him closely, and appropriately call him to order.
Mbu visited the state command in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the other day, and advised policemen on proper behaviour during the forthcoming general elections. However, his fixation on humbug, quixotic self-adulation and predilection for riding roughshod over the people he is meant to protect, rose to the surface once again, and robbed him of the opportunity to end a good assignment in Abeokuta on a good note. Shockingly, he told the policemen they could kill 20 persons in the event that one policeman gets killed during the elections. If this was supposed to be his warning to politicians or their hirelings to desist from violence, his choice of words was too violent and unexpected of an officer of state.
So, with this presumed permission from Mbu, police officers can now go on the prowl, gleefully mowing down citizens under the pretext of self-defence. They can now use the weapons bought for them with taxpayers’ money to kill the taxpayers.
To be sure, a police officer, like his civilian counterpart, has a fundamental right to life. No police officer should be assaulted, let alone killed, while carrying out his/her legitimate duty. But Mbu should have chosen a decent way to convey the message that the police would not tolerate violence during the elections, and that while protecting themselves against being victims of violence, they would deal ruthlessly against thuggery. Such a message would have been understood by police officers, and civilians who might have contemplated perpetrating violence at the polls; it would have resonated with the rest of the citizenry.
It is good that the police authorities as represented by the Inspector General of Police Suleiman Abba promptly disowned Mbu’s aberrant approach to the management of electoral violence by urging caution in the use of firearms. Acknowledging that there are circumstances under which a police officer might be provoked in the course of duty, Abba stressed that the attributes of a police officer require “tact, patience and tolerance and the control of his temper in trying situations.”
But while Abba’s rebuke and admonition are commendable, many Nigerians have been for too long, traumatised by the behaviour of Mbu. Beyond verbal laceration, Mbu should for once be made by the police authorities to realise that a public servant’s excesses are not always condoned as has been his case. He should learn in an unpleasant way and live with the searing memory that as a senior police officer, he is portraying himself as unfit, by actions and utterances, to interact with the public. Indeed, if Mbu does not change tact, the police authorities would do their image and the public a lot of good by assigning him to a position where his words and actions would no longer constitute a threat to the peace and order in the society.