Opinion: An open letter to new Lagos police boss Imohimi Edgal

Opinion: An open letter to new Lagos police boss Imohimi Edgal

Editor’s note: Subair Mohammed, NAIJ.com partner blogger in this latest article writes an open letter to new Lagos police boss Imohimi Edgal.

Mohammed is a Lagos-based journalist, who has great passion for writing.

He could be contacted via: mohammedsubair872@yahoo.com

Dear CP Edgal, as a police officer that is familiar with the security landscape in the state and as a former Deputy Commissioner in charge of police operations, your appointment as the new police boss is nothing but a blessing to the people and government of Lagos state.

Certainly, it is a blessing in the sense that the tense security situation in the state which is partly orchestrated by poor morals, lack of professionalism and integrity of some officers and men of the command can only be solved by an expert that has a well-defined mission and strategy which I hope is embedded in your personality.

Permit me to remind you of your mission statement as expressed by you during your chat with pressmen at the police officers mess recently in Ikeja, Lagos to make Lagos the safest place to do business, restore the pride of police and bequeath to the people a friendly police.

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However, as laudable as your mission statements are, I must say, if sincerely pursued, it is capable of cleansing the already battered image of the officers and men of the command before the public.

That you have seen and heard series of complaints from the public bordering on crimes and illegal acts committed by officers and men in the command in never in doubt, so, it is no news telling you that public perception of the police is awful.

However, it will be of interest to state that one of your greatest challenges as the commissioner of police in the state is getting Lagosians to have confidence in the police as a friend, protector and as men of honour.

It is often said that uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The crown in this wise is nothing but your appointment as the Commissioner of police in a cosmopolitan state like Lagos, so, my question is, how ready are you for the task of bustling crime, restoring the pride of the police and protecting the lives and properties of Lagosians as well as cleansing officers and men in the command of their attitudinal problems?

The atrocious acts committed by the police are too numerous to mention. We have heard a case of a police officer killed a bus conductor for his refusal to pay him N20 bribe.

Just recently, under the watch of former Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni, three police officers were dismissed from the service for collecting bribe.

We have also seen policemen involved in ritual killings, fraud, armed robbery and not to talk of the illegal daily toll collections by the police on Lagos roads from commercial bus drivers.

On my part as a journalist, I have witnessed series of injustice and illegal acts perpetrated by the police in the state.

A day was when along Apapa road, Ebute-Metta (west) when officers from Iponri division of Lagos police command were on patrol.

Like an armed robber in the dead of the night, they invaded a barber’s shop, arrested an apprentice and carted away his generator and clippers and locked up the apprentice in the cell for almost 24hours for no just cause.

As one would thought that the police were on a manhunt for a suspected criminal but this was not the case.

The following day, when the shop owner visited Iponri police station to demand the reason for the invasion, the IPO in charge of the case couldn’t come up with any convincing excuse on why the arrest was made, the clipper and the generator seized.

But they wilfully demanded for N5, 000 from the shop owner to bail his apprentice and equipments which he reluctantly parted with.

Commercial bus drivers and Okada riders in Lagos state are the worst hit as activities of policemen are concerned as they prey on them without any recourse to clemency.

Following the introduction of the state traffic law which prohibits Okada riding on some roads and expressways in Lagos state in 2012 by former Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, the Lagos state government special task force which comprises the officers and men of the state command are burdened with the task of enforcing the traffic law with the mandate of ensuring public safety and maintenance of road discipline.

Apart from ensuring safety and road discipline, the state traffic law also aimed at enhancing crime fighting and speed up the arrest of criminals operating in the state.

But rather than take charge of the crime scene and go after perpetrators of evil acts in the state, some men of the command engaged in broad day light “armed robbery” and extortion of Okada riders, robbing them off their Okada to be either bailed with the sum that ranges between N20, 000 and N30, 000 or forfeit it to them for their personal use.

Few weeks ago, along Mushin-Isolo road, I was opportune to witness these policemen in action as they wrestle and seized an Okada from an individual identified as Emeka.

Upon the seizure, Emeka wept uncontrollably but his tears were not enough to placate the hunger and greed of the law enforcement agents who at this time had conveyed the motorcycle into their truck and drove off.

The story of Emeka was one out of many cases of theft and injustices on innocent Lagosians by the police that happened on a daily basis in almost every part of Lagos state.

Cases abound of how policemen either directly or indirectly involved in crimes or act as an accomplice, a situation which create a foe and distrust between policemen and the public.

Gracefully, you have promised Lagosians that you are willing to go to any length to ensure crimes in Lagos state are reduced to zero level but the question that agitates my mind is: how is this possible considering the disposition of officers and men of the state command to crime fighting?

It is of great importance to start the cleansing from within the rank and file of the police force. Without mincing words, police men in Lagos state are fantastically corrupt and as such it will require extra effort and the grace of God to fight corruption with corrupt police officers as the lead.

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Therefore, for the achievement of your mission, there is an urgent need for you to educate and purge both the officers and men of the command of their atrocious acts.

Also, an increased participation of the community on effective policing is essential for the attainment of a safety environment just as I hold that the platform, Citizens Complaints Hot Centre (CCHC) if activated would be beneficial to achieving your mission.

While I wish you a successful and crime free tenure of office, I want to leave you to ponder on this question; considering the crop of officers and men in the Lagos police command, Is the attainable of a crime free Lagos possible under your watch?

Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had previously reported that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode on Tuesday, September 5, received the new commissioner of police Imohimi Edgal and outgoing commissioner Fatai Owoseni at Lagos House, Ikeja.

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