Assistant Inspector-General of Police Mbu Joseph Mbu is armed and dangerous! It is necessary to serve this warning to the people of Lagos and Ogun States over whose security of lives and property Mbu has been given immediate charge. Mbu did not wait to set down his heavy luggage trucked from Port-Harcourt to Lagos via Abuja before he loudly announced how he proposes to maintain law and order on his new turf. If in the course of duty, said Mbu, any one shoots a policeman, he would see to it that 20 citizens were shot in vengeance. For the Mosaic code of “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, life for life,” Mbu says “Twenty (police) lives for a life!” In fact, not twenty but one hundred, as he would go on to elaborate, throwing caution to the wind and even speaking in the first person singular in the most cold-blooded moment while laying down his code of police justice.
In what seems a rare moment of lucidity, Mbu realised that what he was proposing to officers of the Ogun State command two weeks ago is a truly bloody and barbaric idea of justice. So he dressed it all up in the garb of discipline. “If you love this job,” he said, “the number one commandment . . . is discipline. . . . That’s why I said don’t touch my policeman [sic]. If you shoot my policeman [sic], I will shoot 20 of you, I will shoot a hundred of you.” Ladies and gentlemen, AIG Mbu issued that command to a force in which the “accidental discharge” murder of innocent citizens for the most trivial of reasons—refusal of a mini-bus or commercial tricycle (keke) driver to part with N50 at a checkpoint, for instance—is rampant and a major blight on its reputation.
Mbu, by his own admission, is driven by vaulting ambition. He wants to be Nigeria’s cop-in-chief and if he has to swim to his dream in the blood of citizens convicted in his court of shooting policemen—as if that were the chief cause of homicide or grievous bodily harm in Nigeria—so be it. He is well on his way to his goal; the quickest road to the top in our land is paved by impunity. Did you notice how quick President Jonathan was to nominate Alhaji Musiliu Obanikoro for his old ministerial portfolio despite being caught on tape presiding over the rigging of the Ekiti governorship election of June last year as the junior minister for defence?
Do you find it as disturbing as I do that Mbu is a mere two rungs from his ambition? Inspired by his promotion from Commissioner of Police to AIG following his well-run errands in Rivers State, Mbu’s audacity is now sky-high. He looks starry-eyed at his epaulettes every minute dreaming of the day he would be decorated with the rank of Inspector-General. His day-dreaming renders him dizzy and nearly incoherent. “We are in a very critical period,” Mbu said to his men. “A period that this [sic] all our ranks are now shaky, either you are promoted or you retain it [sic] or you are demoted or you are dismissed. So, it’s left for you to choose which one is better for you. For me, I want to maintain my rank and I want my rank to be increased [sic]. I want to go up and be at the top.”
As always, Mbu disguises rank ambition with the after-thought of some nobler value—hard work in this instance. Just as it was democracy while he supervised the rigging of a governorship election in Ekiti State, using Brigadier Momoh as his . . . well, foot-soldier. “I don’t know about you,” he said to the men and women of the Ogun State police command, but “you have to work hard.” In short, Mbu claims that his blood-curdling command is nothing but a much needed effort at “blow[ing the] air of courage and confidence” into his officers. For, you see, before he was mercifully sent to perform oral resuscitation on them, they were so dead none of them could curl his or her finger around the trigger of a gun.
I detect in Mbu something more troubling than naked ambition. “Anybody who fires you [sic], fire him back in self-defence,” said Mbu. With the crafty rider, “but don’t fire first,” though with nary a word about the level of actual or perceived danger to the police officer to justify returning fire. Might the attacker be disarmed, the danger avoided, without shooting to kill or maim? The question does not arise. To, Mbu self-defence and knee-jerk shooting are the same thing as “coming to you for peace,” same as “not coming to you to come [sic] and kill you.” One begins to wonder if Mbu is mentally fit for any public office, never mind one that requires above all other things a calm and rational mind in a sound body. Should Mbu still be wearing the uniform of the police and allowed to carry a gun? In a country not governed by impunity, he wouldn’t. Alas, we are constrained to watch as Mbu climbs the ladder of irresponsibility to the summit of his career, only two quick rungs away. Or maybe not, depending on the outcome of the presidential election next month.
I doubt that Inspector-General Suleiman Abba is embarrassed by Mbu; after all, his predecessor Mohammed Abubakar wasn’t. In any case, it was under Abba as acting IG that Mbu was elevated. Besides, Abba proved himself a faithful disciple of the doctrine of impunity by invading the National Assembly in a selective restriction of opposition legislators from access to their offices, even going as far as refusing to acknowledge the speaker of the House of Representatives (“one Aminu Tambuwal”). That, needless to say, was a simple re-enactment of what Mbu, as commissioner of police, did at the Rivers State House of Assembly. It remains to be seen whether the police is capable of recognising an embarrassment and a liability and doing something reassuring about it. Until then, take warning all ye residents of Lagos and Ogun State: an armed and dangerous AIG is on the loose in your neighbourhood!