By Haruna Mohammed Salisu
Many, who know me, know I hate writing what could be referred to as “PR Articles” pampering public officeholders. It’s worse if it involves security agents, especially armed security personnel such as the Police and the army—in fact, I have never written one.
But I have written countless articles lampooning the police—mostly because their conduct, especially when it comes to relating with civilians isn’t always palatable.
For example, in my previous write-up about the Bauchi State Police, I have made reference to a December 12, 2019, report where a police officer in Ningi local government area reportedly shot one Sabo Idris who was said to be on his way to mining field at Burra district.
Mr Philip Maku was the Bauchi State Police Commissioner at the time. I remember my toxic encounter with him at a press conference where a heated debate ensued when I was pressing hard on accountability.
I have equally interjected in a widely publicized editorial written for WkkiTimes where a popular police officer, SP Baba Yola “consistently keep torturing and extorting citizens” where it was argued that he was enforcing the ban on Okada and Covid-19 protocols. The article immediately spiked an urgent intervention from the Bauchi State governor, Bala Mohammed, who called Baba Yola to order.
I can also recall making a reference on how an “angry mob attacked and sent packing, the Dambam Divisional Police officers for allegedly ‘robbing commuters.’”
Also, a report on how a township Divisional Police Officer allegedly tortured to death two people for “stealing chickens” is still fresh in our minds.
My major argument most of the time is that the Police aren’t always accountable. They maim and deny. They torture and deny. They extort and deny. They rob and deny. They kill and deny. That remains their modus-operandi in many cases and at all times. They are right in all they do and never shall anyone dare try to hold them to account.
But the case is absolutely different with CP Abiodun S. Alabi fdc, psc, mnim, the current number one Police Officer in Bauchi State. I strongly believe CP Alabi’s stride in Bauchi State has to be documented, at least for posterity—since most of the time our system doesn’t reward its best.
In a recent toxic encounter between the police and my good friend, Damina Yusuf (aka Nagari), who was seriously brutalized by some notorious officers while doing his legitimate job, CP Alabi demonstrated uncommon leadership and maturity. He did not only summon the notorious police officers but had also ensured that they pay the price of their actions.
Many may recall that immediately after Nagari was beaten and got seriously injured by the police, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bauchi State Council pulled out its guns and started spatting a plume of fire—first by issuing a statement condemning the police, staging a boycott and planning what would have been a catastrophic protest and a vote of no confidence on the police in Bauchi.
The CP would have denied that his men were involved. He would have insisted that the police committed no wrong on that day. He would have denied everything and refuse to take blame or responsibility no matter the cost. He would have acted the same way others like him have done in the past—protect his men no matter how culpable they may be; guess what? Nothing would have happened I think.
But CP Alabi, the skilful police officer de-escalated the raging fire and the angry pen-pushers who were ready to ‘trigger-happy’ their pens in sustaining a bad PR for the police. He knew well that the pen is mightier than the sword. Being an honest and learned police officer, he took responsibility for what happened, apologised on behalf of the command, and ensured that the culprits faced the music accordingly—to serve as deterrence to others.
Not to hail and commend this honest and bold decision by CP Alabi is the greatest disservice one can do to one’s pen, because as the saying goes; “reason begets honesty, and honesty if given its head, begets confidence.”
Learning to take responsibility is a leadership gift God bestows on few leaders—and no doubt CP Alabi is one. He has healed the wounds by that singular action he took, and tactically de-escalated an enduring rift between the police and the Bauchi NUJ.
As one nose-dive deeply into his strategy of fighting crime and criminality in Bauchi State, CP Alabi has actively deployed a community engagement strategy more than any Police Commissioner in recent memory. He’s constantly in touch with local communities, especially ones that are seen as flashpoints or hideouts for criminals.
We have seen instances where the CP intensified synergy with traditional rulers which resulted in the arrest of more criminals suspected to have committed various crimes. The recent influx of people from neighbouring Yobe State where remnants of Boko Haram still remain has seen adoption of a community engagement strategy from the CP—this has contributed to des-escalating tension in those communities as I found out.
I don’t know how many years left in his police career, but what is certain is that the number one Police Officer in Bauchi has a lot to teach the law-enforcement agency—from being smart to taking responsibility and making amends where necessary and community engagement that is tag as one of the best strategies to fight crimes.
While we pray and hope for the best for CP Alabi, I think the police authorities should deliberately deploy some mechanisms to reward its best brains and punish bad elements in the system. This will embolden honest and open minds such as CP Alabi to want to do better.
Haruna is Head of Investigations, WikkiTimes and writes from Bauchi
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