Friday 16 November 2007

Policing Adedibu and Nigerian Crime

Every Nigerian a lawyer

Maybe, and maybe just, the culture of impunity is being visited by an atmosphere of intolerance, but before I pack my bags and head for the sunny tropical climes of Nigeria, I should read the subtext and understand the situation better.

Nigeria happens to be one place where lawyers would never be caught unemployed, there is always a point of law being cited by someone for something, that is if everyone does not think they have some legal insight into the workings of what I might be tempted to call black jurisprudence just from the fact that Nigeria is the most populous black country in the world.

Apparently, there is a “Security for Keeping the Peace for Good Behaviour”, in Section 88 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code which reads, “Whenever a court or Justice of the Peace is informed that any person is likely to commit a breach of the peace or to disturb the public peace or to do any illegal act which may probably cause a breach of the peace or disturb the public peace, the court of Justice may issue a summons requiring that person to attend before a court to execute a bond with or without sureties for keeping the peace or refraining from illegal acts likely to disturb the public peace for any period not exceeding one year or to show cause why he should not execute such bond.”

Raking in the miscreants

It appears it is quite a nice piece of legislation if used with fairness and objectivity whilst it can be a dragnet to rake in certain politicians who have become a law unto themselves.

One such politician is Chief Lamidi Adedibu, the Grand Political Thug of Ibadan who has become a thorn in the side of peace and due political process in his sphere of influence which happens to unfortunately extend beyond the walls of his compound and affect the whole city of Ibadan and the political representation of Oyo State.

With his coterie of “brigands” and loyalists, he was in Abuja the Federal Capital and was invited for a chat to the Acting Inspector General of Police in what he thought was a courtesy visit which ended up with him being arraigned before a court and bound to keep the peace for a year based on the suspicion that he could cause trouble.

No man above the law

The President it appears had become fed-up of the situation where Chief Adedibu had constituted a state-within-a-state with an army of thugs whose payment by food morsels has fueled menace, illegality, thuggery, corruption and impunity – his wings needed clipping and this event is now being seen as the triumph of the rule of law in Nigeria.

It is a small step, but something in the right direction and before we get caught up in sympathy for the gerontocrat who clocked 80 a few weeks ago; maybe the that reality no man is untouchable is as sobering as it gets – Chief Adedibu has since been bailed.

100 days of shooting down

This is one type of suspect who has walked away, the selfsame acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, celebrated a 100 days of acting in his capacity as Nigeria’s police chief and I wonder he has not yet been given a substantive appointment.

He appeared at a press conference with 50 other policemen who apparently had been maintaining strict law and order in the North-Eastern Nigeria by exterminating 785 suspected armed robbers and thereby bringing down the crime rate in that region.

Impressive as these figures seem, it does make one worry about a few things; I was not aware there was such a serious crime problem in that region of Nigeria, though one can say that South-Western Nigeria suffers most from violent crime though figures have not been provided to highlight the situation there.

Arrests and deaths

In the same time 1,600 have been arrested and charged whilst the police have suffered 62 fatalities in their run-ins with suspected armed robbers.

Whilst many might be concerned that suspected armed robbers have been killed rather than arrested to follow the due course of justice, I would not be surprised if the reason why some have been arrested as been due to the fact that they had run out of ammunition during battles with the police or had suffered serious injury as to be incapacitated.

Desperate and indiscriminate

Armed robbers in situations like that are desperate, merciless and indiscriminate, this shows in the almost 10% police loss of life for armed robbers killed. It is however more crucial not to be in the wrong place at the wrong time because certain of those suspected might not necessarily have been guilty of anything.

Meanwhile, 28 policemen have been dismissed from the force for acts of corruption, they might just join the ranks of armed robbers since might just know how the police operate when chasing down their quarry.

Now, this all sounds like a welcome development though I remember when some 10 years ago as I prepared to visit Nigeria, I received a DHL message from my mother – it was basically an order – whatever I did, I was not to visit Nigeria, I wonder what informed that decision.


Adedibu arrested and arraigned

Police arraign Adedibu

Hundreds of Nigerian robbers shot

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