How Has Solomon Left Nigeria Police? By Emmanuel Onwubiko

IGP Solomon Arase
Nigeria’s Police Chief, Solomon Arase, going on retirement

The name Solomon as we know it from the Holy Bible depicts a leader that possessed strong will and courage. The name depicts a man who was wise. A man who could give impartial judgments that can stand the test of time.

But, why the reference to King Solomon of the Bible era? Well in Nigeria there is a peculiar Solomon who literally became the ‘King’ of the Nigeria Police Force for nearly two years.

Today June 21st 2016 this Solomon left office as the Chief Law enforcement officer of Nigeria but not without enjoying the rare privilege of a Presidential Dinner and handshake before he picks up his retirement benefits. So Monday June 20th 2016 was the appreciation dinner hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari for the just retired Police Chief.

In the conviviality of the Presidential ambience the Media Advisor of President Muhammadu Buhari took some photographs from the scene of the dinner or what I have chosen to call ‘last supper’.

I took an introspective look at the photographs of Mr. Solomon Arase at a last ‘supper’ with President Muhammadu Buhari on June 20th, 2016 and what I deciphered is a man who obviously knows that he has disappointed most Nigerians who raised the bar of expectations some few months ago when on the twilight of the immediate past federal government, President Goodluck Jonathan named him the Inspector General.

Those who were at that dinner alongside the just retired Inspector General of Police were so pleased that he did the bidding of a section of the country by not strictly enforcing the law to stop the marauding armed Fulani Terrorists from killing off a lot of farmers.

My observation of those photographs uploaded on the social media platform by the special media adviser to the President Mr. Femi Adeshina also revealed a man who wasn’t properly at peace with himself.

Sadly, for a man whose name bears symbolism that ought to mark him apart as a wise man he was obviously caught napping on many occasions and on two occasions when he should have distinguished himself as a no-nonsense Chief Law enforcement officer of Nigeria or police chief, he blew both opportunities up.

These were when the 14 year old Miss Ese Oruru who was abducted by the 25 Kano State born Dahiru Yellow and bundled from Bayelsa to Kano State, the police authority left this unfortunate Nigerian girl child to be wantonly abused and sexually exploited for months.

When the press and Civil Society groups  mounted pressure, the then Inspector General of Public Mr. Solomon Arase was quoted in the media as admitting that though the abducted teenage girl was seen in the Emir of Kano’s Palace but that he needs to speak to the Emir who was in far way Saudi Arabia for lesser Hajj with President Muhammadu Buhari before his operatives can rescue this young girl whose childhood’s innocence has been violently stolen by her kidnapper who reportedly forced her to change her religious faith and put her in a family way.

Another golden opportunity blown away by this just retired Inspector General of Police was when hundreds of farmers and residents of Agatu Community in Benue State were killed by armed Fulani herdsmen who migrated from neighboring Nasarawa State, this supposed Chief Law enforcement officer held a meeting with some community leaders over the crisis and a certain Fulani leader said the Agatu people were massacred because the Fulani herdsmen lost 10,000 Cows. Mr. Solomon Arase failed to stand up to be counted. He failed to arrest this spokesman of the Fulani Community who provided hints on why the killings took place.

Mr. Solomon Arase apparently was afraid of Abuja because President Buhari is reportedly the National patron of Nigeria Fulani herdsmen. For him loyalty to the body language of the current President superceded his loyalty to the Nigerian Constitution. How sad!

But why would a serving Chief Law enforcement officer of Nigeria have to wait for the body language of the president and failed to discharge his constitutional duties? He indeed embarked on the futile defence of the parody of the fake story that the killer Fulani herdsmen came from outside of Nigeria. As the man who should safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians he was not even ashamed of himself that he could mouth the illogical argument that foreigners are killing the same people he is paid to defend. That was a very shameful period of law enforcement that Solomon Arase presided over.

The gaffes of Solomon Arase continued even when scores of people were killed by armed Fulani herdsman in Nimbo, Uzo Uwani local government area of Enugu State.

Mr. Arase simply shuttled out the Commissioner of Police Mr. Nwodibo Ekechukwu from Enugu to the Marine Police Department in Rivers State. This Police Commissioner allegedly collected money from the Enugu State governor Mr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi to forestall the attack on Nimbo community by armed Fulani herdsmen but refused to enforce measures to stop the killings from happening.

In civilized democracies what should have happened is for the police Chief of the nation to show leadership by suspending this seemingly ineffective commissioner of Police and to order for internal disciplinary measures to be imposed or even hand him over to the office of the Attorney General of Enugu State for prosecution for his culpable negligence.

Mr. Arase simply shook this failed erstwhile Enugu Police commissioner on his wrist and asked him to go and to sin no more.

For the many months he presided over as Police Inspector General in Nigeria, the more than 30 mobile Police operatives who disappeared from training school in Borno State whilst been chased by Boko Haram terrorists have yet to be accounted for.

The welfare of the police operatives is at its lowest with most police operatives posted to work in some stop-and-search operations across the Country turning their duties to extortion grounds.

Arase has left a legacy of indiscipline and crass corruption even as cases of extralegal executions of suspects in police detention centers all across Nigeria.

These legacies of indiscipline and corruption are the root causes of the poor policing standards and are the reasons why in over 75 percent of the entire country are left unprotected as most police operatives bribe their superiors to be posted to choice commands such as Lagos, Anambra, Imo and River State. Virtually 90 percent of the rural communities are without any form of policing presence.

This inefficiency of policing is the driving force for the heightened clamor for the creation of State police to be patterned after what are obtainable in such places as the United Kingdom.

For the duration of his stay as Police Inspector General, he failed to build up the intelligence of the force except for rare qualities that have been displayed by a sprinkling of the detectives who have successfully busted some crime but many activities of the persons of the underworld are unleashed with no counter policing measures to stop these criminals and save the lives of Nigerians.

Arbitrary arrests of citizens at the whims and caprices of police operatives are rife even as this police force has failed till date to establish good enough scientific forensic laboratory to properly investigate cases of fatal crimes that have skyrocketed. The fact that there is no institutional oversight on the use of firearms in Nigeria has further compounded these cases of extrajudicial killings by police under the immediate past Inspector General of Police.

The other day in Kano, a woman from Imo State was beheaded in the full glare of police for being an unfortunate victim of armed Islamic fundamentalists but the Police stood by and failed to stop this odious crime.

The Nigeria Police under the immediate past leadership of Solomon Arase have failed on many occasions to stop mobsters from lynching other Nigerians. The manifestation of symptoms of state failure and violence have heightened since the time that Mr. Arase held office so he is considered as one of the most ineffective Chief Law enforcement officers  of Nigeria in recorded history.

The book titled  “Fragile Peace: State Failure, Violence and Development in Crisis Regions” edited by Tobias Debiel with Axel Klein, perhaps captured the episodes that characterized the failed policing standards under the watch of this Edo State born officer Mr. Solomon Arase.

They wrote thus: “In crisis countries the states proves, to a certain extent, to be strong and weak at the same time and can be described in terms of the ‘Lame Leviathan’ paradox (Khadiagala 1995:35).

“This means that, on one hand, it is quite able to keep social relations under control temporarily and appropriate resources in selected areas. On the other hand, however, it is ineffective and distended in the performance of its welfare and security functions and thus not in a position to implement coherent policy concepts beyond certain urban centers or to regulate social relations in a comprehensive manner (migdal 1988:8)”.

The policing institution that Solomon Arase met and has just left can at best only provide security to the politicians but spectacularly fails in all other areas. It is heartrending that police operatives go about arresting innocent people, brutalizing them and extorting them on daily basis and specifically in the South East.

The simple role of the police which in section 4 of the police Act of 1990 provide thus:  “The police shall be employed for the prevention and detection of crime, the apprehension of offenders , the preservation of law and order, the protection of life and property and the due enforcement of all laws and regulation with which they are directly charged, and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required by them by, or under the authority of this or any other Act.”

This Nigeria Police Force is indeed a failed contraption. Only meaningful and surgical overhaul and fundamental reforms can at best rescue Nigerians from the violence unleashed by armed hoodlums of various descriptions.

*Emmanuel Onwubiko is Head of Human rights Writers association of Nigeria and blogs

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