•Charges police authorities to monitor how policemen live
Dr Mike Mbama Okiro was Inspector-General of police (2007 to 2009) and later, Chairman, Police Service Commission, PSC.
He was in charge of the Police Service Commission when embattled Deputy Commissioner of Police, DCP, Abba Kyari, the commander of the Intelligence Response Team, IRT, of the Police, was graciously given double promotion.
In this interview, he barred his mind on recent ugly developments concerning the reputed ‘Nigerian Super cop’ Abba Kyari among other issues.
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor
What is your reaction to the unfolding drama concerning Abba Kyari?
I feel highly disappointed. He was doing very well as an officer and this earned him double promotion when I was the Chairman of Police Service Commission. However, we were unable to look at his character. We were only looking at his performance on the job.
I nominated him for a special promotion at the Police Service Commission, and that has nothing to do with character, and when we are appointing, we are not looking at character, we are looking at performance at the job, but what is unfolding now is actually disgraceful and shameful.
What do you think actually went wrong?
I can’t say what went wrong, it is an individual trait, maybe he could not dissociate himself from his original way of behaviour, and went ahead to do what he was not supposed to do. A law enforcer cannot offend the law when it is his job to defend the law.
Don’t you think it has to do with systemic failure with regards to the police authorities?
I won’t call it a systemic failure, it is an individual failure, and it was what he chose to do himself. For an officer to commit the offence, they don’t do it in the open, they hide it from the probing eyes of the law enforcement agency, and it is not until they are caught or arrested before they know their character traits. So, it is not a systemic thing, it is an individual failure.
Is it not a systemic failure for the fact that he was on suspension, but he was still operating with IRT boys?
It was not a systemic failure. He was suspended from duty, but that did not suspend his bad character, it did not stop him from continuing in his criminal activities.
After his involvement in Hushpuppi’s case, what is your reaction to the Police Service commission saying they are setting up another committee?
My reaction to this is that the two security agencies, the Police force and Police Service Commission have the duty to execute for Nigerians and the constitution because if the police report came indicting him, and they send to the Police Commission, they will review it, they won’t take the report hook, line, and sinker, so if the report indicts him, the PSC will have to review it.
Nigerians are concerned that the Police authority is shielding Kyari, an example was the recent IGP’s son’s wedding that Kyari was in attendance. How do you feel?
There was nothing wrong. When an official is on a suspension that does not mean he cannot walk about, he is not on house arrest or in prison, but on suspension. If he is on suspension and he has some business to keep him going, he can do that.
Being on suspension does not mean that he cannot attend the IG’s wedding, people’s burial, or any other activities he chooses to be part of or visit friends. Suspension means he won’t be able to perform his official duties, so being at the IG’s son’s wedding is not an indictment on him or on the IG.
What lesson do you think the police should learn from the unfolding drama between Kyari and the NDLEA?
What the police should learn from this is that they should put a tab on officers and monitor the kind of life they live. In those days when my father was a public servant, he said there was a General Order, that you cannot be seen living above your means of livelihood, you cannot drive a car to the office if you are not on a car loan, and it was so in my time, too.
But these days, you see police officers driving expensive cars when they are not on a car loan, and it is the service authority that encourages all these because they don’t give car loans anymore.
Officers are just allowed to source them on their own and when you see them driving those cars, you cannot ask them who gave them the money to purchase them because they are not given car loans. So, it is in a way that if you are not on a car loan, you must explain how you got the money to buy a car.
Given the prevailing situation, do you think Nigerians should still trust the Nigerian police?
Why not? Nigerian police officers are Nigerians; I don’t think there is any foreigner in the Nigerian police force. So, it is what you put in, you put out.
They equally behave like other Nigerians, If Nigerians are straightforward, the police would be straightforward, but then, the police officer is employed to fight crime and they should not be part of that crime they should be fighting.
They are expected to be above board if they should be able to arrest and prosecute a criminal and not be part of the crime. Nothing actually justifies the fact that a police officer should be part of the crime they should be fighting.
Let me tell you something, yesterday when I returned from Port Harcourt, as the flight landed, we were supposed to sit and wait to follow protocols of the COVID-19, but a man stood up and wanted to move out.
A cabin crew member asked the man to sit down but he refused and said he won’t sit, and the man started to push the cabin crew shouting that he had a flight to catch, and I told him, look friend if you have a flight to catch, why can’t you calmly explain it to the crew instead of pushing them. So, you see, that is the character of Nigerians, so that is what reflects in the police.
What is your take on the disbandment of the Satellite IRT tactical squad team by IG as a result of this ugly development?
When I was the Inspector-General of Police, I disbanded all these mushroom IGP units and said all teams must go to Force Criminal Investigations Department because, if you have all these mushroom units attached to the IG, sometimes they feel they are above the law because they bypass the Commissioners, the DIG, the AIG, and the IG cannot monitor them.
If they are linked to state commissioners or AIGs and so on, it would be easier to monitor those units because they are closer to them.