I am not a fan of police officers.
Over the past 32 years, I have done enough character sketches, caricatures and acerbic commentaries about the Nigeria Police to fill a whole book.
But in the process, I have also come in contact with and made friends with many police officers who have proven to be true professionals.
Taiwo Lakanu, who has just been promoted from his post as Commissioner of Police in Imo State to Assistant Inspector General of Police in Abuja is one of such.
Lakanu is essentially an operations man. From DPO to anti-armed robbery squad, to IGP aide, to commissioner of police, and now AIG, he has managed over the years, to build a network of contacts at all levels of the Nigerian society.
He is the archetypal police as your friend, he reaches out to the community, he has a forever listening ear and he is fiercely loyal to his bosses.
When it comes to his job, he is extremely stubborn and unyielding. A lawyer and a trained officer, he does not joke with his job.
He once told me the story of how a certain notorious herbalist-armed robber taken into custody became a chief informant to the station, and who helped the Special Anti-Armed Robbery Squad in Lagos to nail many armed robbers.
When the fellow suddenly died as he had himself predicted, Lakanu said he wept. The man had become an asset to the Nigerian state.
When Lakanu told me other stories of face-to-face encounters with hoodlums during operations, I often wondered how he has managed to survive.
Police work is tough work!
Lakanu’s elevation is certainly a reward for hard work, diligence and professionalism. I congratulate him on his achievement.
He has not served as Police PRO but he is probably the most influential police officer of his grade among Nigerian journalists.
I am not surprised that he recently excelled as CP, Imo State where he proved to be an asset to all and sundry by ridding the communities of established crime. Upon his departure, dances were organized to celebrate him.
The Governor named a street in his honour. He was also offered a plot of land which he was told he could choose as his retirement base in the future, in addition to a sum of N5 million as “fuel money.”
He may have rejected the land and the fuel money, but in truth, it is not always that Nigerian police officers are so honoured.
Oftentimes, they are chased away by the same people they are asked to protect. Lakanu’s example is instructive.
The Akogun of Lagos, thank you for living true to your traditional title. Hearty congratulations.