Elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, on Tuesday, September 4, suffered a humiliation from the Nigerian Police Force. The 91-year-old former minister of information watched in awe as his Abuja residence was ransacked by some policemen, in search of arms. His house was turned over by policemen, who had suspected that there was a storehouse of arms and ammunition in the nonagenarian’s house.
The raid attracted all the noise and uproar it could muster, culminating in the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, sacking three police officers, involved and offering the leader of the Ijaw nation an unreserved apology. The sacked officers included Godwin Musa (AP/No. 18858), Sada Abubakar (AP/No. 225812) and Yabo Paul (AP/No. 225828). An Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr. David Dominic (AP. No 158460), who allegedly led the illegal operation, was suspended. The IGP has also gone ahead to disband his Tactical Squad, the arm of the Force that carried out the raid.
According to the Police, “the gravity of the offences against the officers is serious in nature and dismissal from service is imminent.”
The Police further said that the officers were dismissed “after the trio were tried under oath in orderly room trial for discreditable conduct, illegal duty, disobedience to lawful order and other misconduct contrary to the rule of law.”
The ‘informant,’ Ismail Yakubu, who tipped the Police off for the raid, was also paraded before journalists and would be charged to court, according to the Police.
Although Clark accepted the apology tendered by the Police, he is demanding further action on the matter. He wants a full investigation. He has named the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Yusuf Kolo, Commander of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tactical Squad and Assistant Inspector General of Police (Federal Intelligence), Umoru Usman as those who instructed the raid and search on his residence.
He has petitioned President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major-General Babagana Monguno (Rtd).
Clark, who is the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), has been leading other Niger Delta stakeholders to quell youth restiveness and destruction of oil pipelines in the region.
We commend the IGP for the timely intervention in what would have been an ugly incident. But we make bold to state that both the apology and the dismissal of the policemen involved are not enough actions on the matter. We acknowledge that the IGP was bold and quick enough to arrest the situation. Had he not done that, the action of the policemen could have been misread to have come from him.
We insist that the actions taken by the IGP on the matter are not enough based on certain reasons, one is that the actions were taken promptly because a high profile character like Clark was embarrassed. We need not stress the fact that many Nigerians have been humiliated in similar circumstances, but were not apologised to by the IGP for such humiliations. Daily, on the road, in their houses and on the streets, thousands of Nigerians are frisked, searched and harassed by policemen for no justifiable reason.
Ordinarily, we are aware of the powers of the police to stop and search or to enter any house for similar actions, but we are also aware that such actions can only be undertaken with appropriate warrants. We then ask: Was there a search warrant for the raid on Clark’s house? If yes, who signed such warrant? Who ordered the search? If no, how did the Police conclude to execute the exercise? Is it enough for the police to act on an information from any informant (even from an unstable character)?
Clark is fortunate that his personality can elicit angry reactions that made the IGP to react with swiftness as he did. But what of ordinary Nigerians who do not have such personality?
Clark has been at the forefront of negotiations with Niger Delta youths and militants to cease fire and allow oil exploration in the region. He has done that in conjunction with the Federal Government. We refuse to accept that he would be approbating and reprobating at the same time. Or is it possible that while he negotiates for ceasefire in the region, he, at the same time, is stockpiling arms in Abuja? To do what?
Much as it is acceptable to say that nobody is above criminal tendencies, but for a 91-year-old nationalist of Clark’s nature, what would he be using arms for in Abuja? Not in his houses in Delta State.
We believe that the action of the police was in bad taste. We believe that certain ages confer some rights and privileges on people. But a situation where the police saw Clark in his house and went ahead to ransack the house neither confers honour on the Police nor on the system. Recently, there have been several instances where security agencies have malfunctioned and gone beyond normal expectations. This is one of such incidents, which must not be allowed to close without a proper probe of all the characters that were involved and bringing them to book. We maintain that sacking of the three junior officers are not enough.
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