Defence & Security

Reasons for declining police service, by Solomon Asemota

By Gabriel Omonhinmin

Colonial masters double standard and refusal by Nigerians who took over from them to be innovative and implement standards, later resulted in the degradation of the ethos and values of the Nigerian Police Force after the exist of the colonialists.

Chief Solomon Asemota (SAN) , an Inspector in the Colonial Police, before resigning his commission in 1961 to practice law, disclosed this in Lagos when he joined Professor Wole Soyinka and Femi Falana to dialogue with newsmen about the state of country.

Asemota explained that before the exit of the colonial masters, there were only five ranks between the Inspector-General of Police of Nigeria (IGPN) and the constable. But sadly, as we speak today, 32 ranks now separate the IGPN and the Nigerian police constable. This makes it almost impossible for any constable to aspire to the summit of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), The Trumpet gathered.

Thus, some police personnel now have the mindset of “if I cannot aspire to head the Nigerian Police Force, no matter how hard I work or dedicated to service, I had better make all the money I can make whether genuinely or through crooked methods.”

Asemota agreed there were pockets of corrupt practices then in the Nigerian Police Force as at that time, but said it was however, never imagined it would get to this unimaginable level as it is today.

He added: “The Provincial Police officer for Ikeja was one Mr. Ford. One morning he called me into his office, and said ‘Inspector Asemota, you are transferred to the Motor Traffic Division (MTD) in Ijora. Then Lagos was part of the then Western Region. He asked me to go and work under the famous Fycountry, who was heading the Nigerian Police Motor Traffic Division.

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“I told Mr. Ford, I don’t want to go to the Motor Traffic Division of the Nigerian Police, which Fycountry was heading then. He asked me, whey? I told him, my Principal in school, I was the head boy, will see on the road, I think I was there to collecting bribe from motorist. Mr. Ford looked at me, you know? People were paying to be posted to MTD as at that time. This was why, I said earlier on, that there was already corruption in the Nigerian Police Force even before the white men left us. But it was however, on a very low scale.

“What happens today, is that Police men virtually robbed people with their guns on the roads whether in towns or on the high-ways, in the name of collecting bribe. Because a Police man who is carrying a gun on a road, who ends up forcing money out of a motorist willy nilly, has done nothing different from armed robbery. People are therefore been robbed every day on the road, by the Nigerian Police.

“In the Colonial Police, we had lesser ranks, as against what is obtainable now. Then we only had one IGP for the whole of Nigeria. As we speak, there are not less than 30 ladders between the present day IGP and the Constable on the street. I once went to the Scottish Police College, when I came back I did a report to the sitting IGP Kam Salem. Because when I got to the college, even though, I was already a graduate of the University of Lagos, I was asked in the college to seat with Sargent’s and I said what? I was wearing two stars on my shoulders as at that time.

“I told the Scottish Police College Instructors, that I was not a Sargent. The Scottish Police College Commandant then brought out the file of Kam Salem who was then Inspector-General of the Nigerian Police Force, he showed it to me. The File of one Ali Idowu and three others who have also attended the course I was attending in the Scottish Police College. He told me, these men attended this particular course, when they were all Superintendent of Police and I was only an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

“So when I returned from the course, I did a detailed report the IGP Kam Salem, telling him, that the act of making a Nigerian Police Superintendent to seat with Scottish Police Sergeants in a class is not fair and unacceptable. I also made it very clear, that I see myself as good as any Deputy Superintendent of Police DSP anywhere in the world.

“Kam Salem and the Nigerian Police Force immediately corrected what I complained about. You know? Because of the Colonial mentality they were still carrying, they later reverted to what I had complained about earlier on. This was when, they begun to destroy the ethos of the Nigerian Police Force, this is how we got to the disgraceful place the Nigerian Police is today in our society. So today, we have well over 32 ranks between the IGP and the Constable, when it ought to have been only five or six ranks difference. Forgetting we all go to the same market, the IGP and the Constable.

“In those days, there used to be European Salary European post. And African Salary, African post. The African got post in the police Chief Inspector. In the army Sargent-Major. The salary paid to the Police at that time was not good. This was one of the reasons I left the Nigerian Police Force.

“One day, while still in the police force, I went to see a lawyer, who asked me how much my IGP was earning, I told him One thousands Eight-Hundred and Forty Pounds. He turned to me, and said, I will give you, your IGP Salary immediately, go and find out, how much your gratuity is and pension. This was how I left the Nigerian Police to seek greener pastures.

“With the present recklessness in the entire Police force, nobody really know what the Nigerian Police stand for. All manner of under hand tactics are deployed people are promoted. People who genuinely work to improve the Nigerian Police are never promoted. People who were supposed to have been weed out, are sadly the ones, who get the pinnacle of the present day Police Force. Any surprise things are the way they are with the Nigerian Police? No!”

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