Do You Remember Alozie Ogugbuaja

Do You Remember Alozie Ogugbuaja? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 01 August 2006
DETECTIVES from the London Metropolitan Police arrived in the Nigeria last week to join their Nigerian counterparts in unravelling Thursday’s gruesome murder of Mr. Funsho Williams. The detectives, who are said be forensic experts, have commenced

 work immediately, collecting exhibits. “The exhibits that would be picked would be taken abroad for proper and intensive analysis and later forwarded back to Nigeria.” This is not the first time that foreign forensic experts have been brought to Nigeria to help unravel difficult crimes. What a Shame!

Many Nigerians would still remember Alozie Ogugbuaja, a former superintendent of Police of the pepper soup theory fame. In the mid 1980s, Alozie Ogugbuaja, then a Police Public Relations Officer in Nigeria, upset his superiors when he publicly stated that coup plotting was often the outcome of boredom in the barracks. Ogugbuaja argued that idle soldiers who spend much of their time eating pepper-soup and drinking alcohol were responsible for plotting coups.

However, in that famed testimony before the Justice Mustapha Akanbi Tribunal probing students riots in Nigeria, in 1986, Alozie Ogugbuaja had, in a two-hour submission, drawn attention to the plight of the junior police officers in the Force and more. He pointed out that the Nigerian Police officers were a neglected lot. And perhaps the Federal Military Government was deliberately starving the Nigerian Police of funds because it is not in the military’s interest to have a well funded developed police Force. The nation ignored.

Again in 1987, he did a memo calling on the police authority to establish a Nigeria Police Union. Again, it remained ignored. There was a time it was a taboo to even mention police problems. This was during the military empire. The police leadership called him a liar. They claimed that Nigerian police officers were one of the highest paid and happiest humans in the world. He was vilified and crucified. Suspended from the Police Force and eventually sacked. Today, under this democratic dispensation, these same officers are still complaining. Strikes have been organized. Now,
every local policeman, in their candlelit stations and traffic warden, is delivering a manifesto on the denigration and wreck of the police by military juntas, a denigration which has continued under this Obasanjo civilian government.

Today, 20 years after Alozie Ogugbuaja’ testimony and 7 years into a civilian administration, That the Nigerian Police cannot still perform their statutory duty is a sad indication of the deteriorating rot the entire system has sunk into and should serve as an indication that the present policing system is and unworkable. The Obasanjo regime solution is to change the name from The Nigerian Police Force to The Nigeria Police Service! What a laugh!

This latest ridicule of the Nigerian Police Service should serve as a wake-up call to modernise, democratise and restructure the Police. The people must be involved in securing themselves by evolving a viable community-based policing system. Budgetary allocation to the Police is paltry; policemen are hungry. The salary of a Police sergeant is less than N9, 000 per month. They parade guns which look like toys when compared to those carried by criminals that
they are supposed to apprehend; and they carry out their duties in clothes that make them look like beggars. The implication of this is that the nation’s policemen have become toll collectors, gun hirers and armed robbers.

When one looks back at the way Policing is done back in Nigeria as compared to what obtains here in the UK, one would not be surprised at the law of the jungle that passes for human living back home. In fact, it is a mystery that people still survive at all. I am sure that the Police experts from the UK would be alarmed at what passes for Police investigation. For instance, would they understand that the Police would not be the first to touch the body of the late Funsho Williams? Would they understand that the whole area was not cordoned and taped to prevent people’s movement tampering with vital forensic evidence. Would the officers be able to comprehend that the relatives of the slain politician would have taken him to the hospital and the mortuary before the arrival of the Police? That even if a distress call was sent to the Police and the operation lasted for 3 hours that the Police would still not respond? Wouldn’t the Police officers be mystified that when they arrived they could not gain access into the residence as they were told that one of the sons of the slain politician had locked the door and left with the key? It was reported that “After waiting for about 15 minutes, Onovo directed that the British detectives should leave and] return by 1pm. He also ordered that all the vehicles parked in the compound be removed before their return for easy access”. Who would explain to them why the whole residence is not in the custody of the Police until proper combing of the Premises is completed for forensic evidence. If the Politician is indeed strangled, tied with a rope and knifed, wouldn’t the Officers be surprised that there are no local facilities available for all the DNA evidence that must surely be begging to found on the body, the rope and the knife?

Most importantly, we have the Inspector General of Police, The Police Service Commission and the Minister of Police affairs, what are these nincompoops paid to do. Billions of Naira has been invested on these institutions. The UK police officers would be amused that none of these big men have ever resigned at the spectre of high profile assassinations going on – this includes the chief law officer of the federation, chief Bola Ige –with none of the culprits ever convicted. Do these empty heads understand at all that the fear of conviction is the strongest deterrent to crime?

Enough of this humiliation and neo-colonial subservience! To address this menace, the Police should be properly funded to make it more efficient, effective and people-friendly. Apart from this, the present Police authorities should be sacked and a different body appointed to carry out a total re-orientation and repackaging of the Force by ensuring proper recruitment, training, promotion and overall welfare of the personnel. Since there is a direct relationship between security and foreign investment, government owes it a duty to accord security its rightful priority, to drum the needed support for its economic reforms.

Otherwise, we might as well invite UK politicians to handle our democratic affairs the way we invited their policemen to handle our police affairs for us. Are they not all part of our learning process?

PS: I cannot but be surprised at the flurry ofactivities and the haste to unravel the mystery behind the Murder of Engr. Fusho Williams. One could not help but wonder why previous high profile assasinations did not attract such keen Police investigations. Could it be that the previous ones were a convenient favour to all concerned parties?

Daniel Elombah