Even The Inspector General of Police’ Office Is Corrupt-Ex DIG Chris Omeben
The name Reverend Dr. Chris Omeben might not readily come to mind but the respected elder statesman is sure one of the nation’s prides owing to his impressive track records. The devout Christian and now the general overseer of Jesus Saviour Ministries Church is one of the very first Nigerian policemen trained in England for the purpose of thorough investigative activities before the Nigeria Police formation was battered after the late General Murtala Mohammed-led military government. According to him, “the Nigeria Police used to encompass the Customs, Immigration, the Civil Defence, The Army and all other forces before now and it was after Murtala’s military rule that everything got dismantled because of the fact that the Army was threatened by the Police’ strength and strong formations, in fact, quote me anywhere, it was the Police that bailed out the Nigerian Army during the Biafran war when we gave them a helping hand by making available our PC which no one else’ had then, anyway that’s a story for another day” his words. The British trained top police boss rose to an enviable rank of the Deputy Inspector General of Police before he retired to the pulpit. He headed the panel set up by the civilian administration of the former president Olusegun Obasanjo to look into the problems plaguing the Nigeria Police and formulate reforms accordingly but the recommendations of his panel yielded no results. Recently the firebrand erstwhile police officer who has found joy in the God’s vineyard was a host of honour at Continental Broadcasting Service owned Radio Continental where he gave an insight into the secrets of the Nigeria Police and what the new Inspector General, MD Yussuf must do to stop corruption. The excerpts monitored by Enquirer’s Murphy Fadairo is as interesting as a family story.
We are looking at the new panel charged with formulating reforms in the Nigerian Police Force; we know you headed a reforms committee at some time; tell us about the reforms committee and how far did it go?
Well, the reforms committee which you are talking about was put in place by former president Olusegun Obasanjo and we looked into many things in the Nigerian Police ranging from the accommodation, welfare, uniform, and method of investigating and handling criminal matters. And we put up our recommendations to the then president but unfortunately he didn’t do anything again beyond that.
So what went wrong with your recommendation?
Well the government just failed to act on the recommendations; if they had done that I think the problem of the Nigerian Police would have been a thing of the past.
Okay now we have a new panel which was set up to do what you have done; what do you think of the new panel?
What I will say about this new panel is that if they want to do what the public will like to hear and see; it should make the Inspector General of Police know that he must establish a very strong intelligence unit that will be gathering information. What this will do is that he will not depend on any other external body for the intelligence work. They should also strengthen the work arm of the investigative department of the police i.e. the CID. It was because the CID failed that the EFCC and ICPC came into being. The same thing goes to the state CID; if they are trained and given free hand to work, the force will be better for real. He should avoid the pitfall of some of his predecessors and what are these pitfalls; they should do away with what they call IG’S Squad, Commissioners’ Squad, these are squads which give room for corruption. The Police Act doesn’t have room for these kind of associations; it has no room for Commissioners’ Squad, what we have is Force CID and State CID. If they follow these ways the police will be better for real and the public will have better confidence in that institution.
Do we deserve the POLICE we have as we speak?
Every country deserves the Police force it has. What is killing the system is that people don’t have confidence in the force. They will rather want to sell information to us than give you free access to it which will make your work more efficient. We should have a change of heart.
At what point did the Police Force in Nigeria become this bad?
It came to a bad state when the ARMY started doing the work of the Police. The ARMY destroyed the Police. If the Police should go back to when it used to be efficient; we will get it right back, I am urging the President to separate the Army from the Police in the sense that the Army should not interfere in the affairs or matters of the Police. We have the Army harassing people and arresting them for civil matters which should not be. They should stay in their barracks and let the police do the civil work.
Is it possible to sanitize the system as we speak?
It is possible to sanitize the system and this means that the Inspector General himself shouldn’t be above the law. If he gives chance to his officers to make what I call ‘returns’ to him; he will not be able to correct them. If you place Commissioners in places where you call lucrative areas, that will make corruption thrive and the Police Force will be going down the more. If this is done the nation will have what it deserves.