“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” is a Latin adage for “Who watches the watchmen?” This phrase opens the way for our discourse today as we tend to look at the other side of the now suspended DCP Abba Kyari’s current ordeal.
You can hardly think of any other news making the round in Nigeria now, than the most disheartening news that a ‘quintessential’ cop of Abba Kyari status was fingered in the Hushpuppi scandal, that made US police declare him wanted. Paraphrased, the FBI’s warrant of arrest against Mr. Kyari means that one of our watchmen is suspectedly, an accomplice and accessory to a crime of international ranking. His premature rush to the media to put up a disclaimer didn’t even do his case any good. His denial was so attenuated.
But that is not the crux. Our focus is on Nigerians who expressed surprise that a police officer whom they nicknamed ‘super cop’ could be a clandestine protector of Hushpuppi (a soon-to-be convicted serial fraudster). May be because it destroyed their illusions. In their usual emotional response to realities, many Nigerians failed to appreciate the fact that they had hastily canonized a living soul a saint, with exaggerated attribute of ‘integrity.’
This explains why the Catholic church don’t pronounce anyone a saint until he/she is dead, because so long as one is alive, one wears carnal frailty and is in a constant battle of inner craving to commit grave offences.
But in the secular world, the famous law jargon: “accusatus est innocens nisi probetur nocens” (the accused remains innocent until proven guilty) holds sway. Nigerian police officers are all ‘dependable’ and retains their ‘super cop’ titles until they are caught in illegality. A very good friend of mine would say that “because light travels faster than sound, every woman looks beautiful until she speak.”
As a Nigerian, to express surprise that a celebrated cop could be strongly implicated in high crime like this is to live in denial. But to understand why we had, and will always have, the likes of the (accused) DCP Kyari in our police force, permit me to digress a little to draw an analogy.
There was a reason many analysts believed that #EndSARS protest was a patriotic match that ended in futility. The organizers missed what should have been the proper message of the remonstrance. They settled for disbanding of the gestapo arm of the Nigeria police code-named SARS, instead of routing for integral police reform. It was likened to treating the symptoms instead of the pathogenic agent of a disease. It was in the denouement of the protest that it dawned on the organizers that they should inscribe hashtag police reform and good governance mantra on their placards. But it didn’t sink well into the thematic vascular mesh of their demands before government used brute force to dismiss them.
Consequently, SARS was disbanded and Nigeria police remained a nemesis. We forgot that without amending the 1999 constitution, which fathered almost all our undoings in this country, coupled with sincere and wholesome reform to the laws establishing our police, alongside fashioning a reproducibly upgraded training protocols for them, nothing will ever change in our police force and policing system.
It is more than 10 months since the protest ended, yet nothing changed in the force. Our police colleges kept churning out fawning, cringing, cowering, deceitful and spineless policemen and women in their rank and files. While we kept pretending they are worthy, manly, saintly, straight-speaking and reliable law enforcement agents. Yet the name “Nigeria police” remained the S.I unit of bribery and corruption. When it dawned on me that nothing short of holistic re-birth can save our police force, was when we returned to democracy, and the force retained its status quo ante, irrespective of the frequency of changes made on who occupies the IGP’s seat. No police I.G had ever brought any meaningful leadership to the force. And in the deepest recesses of our hearts we knew why. They are easily gagged by the executive in the type of presidential system of government operated in this part of the world.
Consider the ordeal of Tafa Balogun, and the unceremonious ending to a successful career of the immediate past IGP, Mohammed Adamu. When Adamu was removed and the current one, Bala Usman assumed office, many a Nigerian shouted Eureka! But from experience, and considering the present situation, I knew Mr. Bala has little or nothing to offer to make a positive impact.
In fact, I wrote an article in Daily Times Newspaper on April 15, titled: “THE RHETORICS OF NIGERIA REALITY: Things the new I.G cannot do.” In that piece, without fear of being accused of cynically preempting him I wrote: “…the unethical behavior among the rank and file of the force will not be abated under the new IGP. as long as the commander-in-chief, the police establishment Act, their training syllabus and 1999 constitution in their present make-up continue to subsist. So long as they prevail, changing of the IGP will continue to make no difference.”
Kyari was in Oba a fortnight ago to append validation seal on the exuberant show of material wealth by Obi Cubana at the burial of the latter’s mum. He was said to have referred to Cubana as a “close friend.” This placed a question mark on his acclaimed ‘brand.’ Hushpuppi, is apparently another “close friend” as FBI had released strong incriminating evidence that he was privy to the alleged crimes of Hushpuppi. Until a major shake off is effected in the force and Nigeria police ceases to be synonymous with bribery and corruption, there will continue to be more Kyari in uniform usurping the privilege of state protection.
However, as Chikwendu Ugwueze would say, let us also not forget that: “Kyari’s major crime (if any) may not be the money he received in any way, it may be his failure to act appropriately as an agent of a state even when he knew there was a case of fraud.”
Many are in that bracket.
Thousand and one Kyaris abound in Nigeria police! And we all knew it. According to Barr. Ezugwu Okike: “If Abba Kyari is what it took you to know about official collusion with crime in Nigeria, I am sorry; you have been incredibly street-dull. How much more crime can Nigeria take? “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” That is not mundane moralizing common in books of scripture. It is a statement of ineluctable fact. Nigeria, perhaps arguably, holds a record for the highest number of criminals in one country. No country can survive this number of thieves. You should be worried.”
May daylight spare us!
Eze Jude O.
Medical Laboratory Scientist, a Columnist and Public Affairs Analyst.