Foluso Adebanjo was in the Nigeria Police for 33 years before he called it quits as substantive Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of the Force Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The 60-year old spoke with TUNDE BUSARI in this interview on the state of insecurity in the country, among other issues.
What is your view on the insecurity hovering on the nation, especially the incessant attack on the innocent by the so-called herdsmen?
I want to believe that you would understand my response to this question from the perspective of a professional law enforcement agent. I must say that no sane person or government will wish for insecurity because growth is naturally stagnated and, in fact, retarded during this period. But something that is worrisome here in Nigeria is our penchant for reading political meaning to almost every occurrence. It must be understood that insecurity is a global phenomenon; hardly will a day go without the media, local and international, reports one incident or the other. This is, however, not justifying it here. It must, at the same time, be established to know the magnitude of what we are talking about. I think the best way to address this issue is from the angle of solution to the subject. We may continue, from now till tomorrow, talking and arguing over the matter without preferring solution, but we are not saying anything. I want to implore Nigerians not to see the matter as the problem of the regions where it occurs alone. We should see it as a general problem which we must collaborate to end. How do I mean? We have to support the government’s effort, instead of complicating the problem, especially using the social media. We should all be our brother’s keeper and be vigilant too. Security issue is not something we should leave in the hand of the official law enforcement agencies. We all have one role or the other to play if we are serious in securing our society.
How did you find yourself in the uniform?
Keeping the society safe has always been my passion from the childhood, even though I did not see the associated hazards. But I can tell you that if I had even seen them, it would not make any difference because I detest criminalities and anarchy. When I was studying in the Central State University, Edmond,Oklahoma, USA (now University of Central Oklahoma) where I obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, Management and Administration, I was exposed to a lot of things which made my enlistment the right decision.
When were you enlisted?
That was in 1985 as Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police, after which I served in various states and zonal commands and held strategic positions in almost all the departments in the Force. I also served in the Force Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department (INTERPOL), Presidential Task Force on Trade Malpractices, a forerunner to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Ikoyi, Lagos. I was Commissioner of Police Anti-Bomb Squad also known as Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Force Headquarters, Abuja. I also served as Commissioner of Police in Edo and Rivers State Commands, Commissioner of Police (Administration) at the Force Headquarter Abuja. In addition, I also attended several local and international courses. I am a member of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and also a member of several professional and international organizstions. As I have sad earlier, mine has been a fulfilling, action-packed career. Again, to God alone is the glory because without him, I might have not witnessed the end of my career. Not everyone that starts a race ends it.
After 33 years in service, won’t you miss your routine?
To say the truth is to confess that I am now in a new world. You may call it an odd world for effect, as a journalist. This is a job I love and did with every pinch of the blood in my veins. If you ask me again, I will say it as one of the best jobs around. I am already missing the police, even though you may say it is too early. But that is the truth. I am missing the Inspector General of Police, (Ibrahim Idris) and my great colleagues. It was memorable working together with these people in securing our nation against the black sheep of the society.
What is your advice for your colleagues and subordinates you left behind in the Police Force?
I think I should drop some few words as my little contribution to their own career. One of the things they must hold dear to their heart and also protect is dignity and power of the Force. The Nigerian Police is the foremost internal security agency in the country and must be in the forefront in the fight against all forms of criminality. We cannot afford to be playing a second fiddle to any other organisation. Of course, there must be synergy between the police, the military and other security agencies. All officers as well as the rank and file of the police must ensure that discipline, which is the bedrock of the Force, is maintained at all time. Impunity must not be condoned under any guise. There is no doubting the fact that Nigerians are hard to please, but our men must try to live above board, do their best and leave the rest for posterity. I have come across heavy criticism in the course of performing my duties, but I always handled the situation with calmness and a challenge to do the best I could to leave behind a good name. Again, one cannot satisfy everybody but one must be seen to have made some positive contributions.
Can you share some memorable moments-positive and negative-you experienced in the service?
This question, if asked many times, will naturally evoke a kind of emotions in me. It is like attempting to touch an old wound. And when an old wound is touched, you should expect some feelings.
Of course, it is also an emotional poser to explore the innermost part of your career.
When I was serving at the Edo State command, I recorded my lowest point when four of my men were brutally murdered by ruthless kidnappers while attempting to foil a kidnap incident. Naturally, I feel low whenever the news breaks that any officer is killed during operation. No officer should not have the same feeling losing his men to criminals, those criminals who are supposed to be brought to book for necessary punishment. Anyway, such is life. There is time for everything. But I must tell you without sounding immodest that in the Edo State command, I did my best with the cooperation and indeed support of the former governor of the state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The governor stood by the command in ensuring the relative peace that we achieved. With that support, it may interest you to know that we were closing on the notorious armed robbery kingpin, Kelvin; most of his gang members had been thrown into detention, one after the other. Although he fled the state when the heat was obviously making him uncomfortable, we did not relent in getting him. I must say it that the Edo State I met was that I left behind. This is due to determined and purposeful leadership that is willing to sacrifice for the good people of the state. Officers were equally mobilised for the war on crime. What we had was a battle of good over evil. The support of the state government and the eople effectively combined to give us that result we recorded.
What is your advice to the nation as we are preparing for the general election?
Regarding elections and security in Nigeria, I am in the process of publishing a book on that subject, based on my experience in the field. It is always my candid view that election should not be a do-or-die affair. Our politicians must behave like the athletes who know that there will be winners and losers. Every one running for election must adhere to the electoral laws and not buy arms and ammunitions for thugs to cause mayhem. Also, there should be a level playing field for contestants by all political parties. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the police and other security agencies should also ensure they play their respective role well, without fear or favour.
In retrospect, how can you describe your three decades in the Nigeria Police?
In that regard, I have to thank the Almighty God for seeing me through my career. It was a very interesting but dangerous journey, a voyage filled with God’s goodness. I can humbly and honestly say that, despite all the hazards associated with keeping the country safe, I have every reason to show gratitude to God for successfully passing through the good, the bad and the ugly.
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