In a country where corruption has become a bad cancer that thrives on the medications applied to it, the story that the Police Service Commission (PSC) had promoted six senior police officers for rejecting various huge sums of bribe is cheering, timely and re-assuring.
Their promotion was consequent upon what the commission describes as the officers’ display of rare and exemplary courage to shun corruption. Especially at a time like this when character crisis confronts the nation at all levels, the Police Service Commission’s decision not to gloss over the exemplary character of the six officers is most fitting.
Both the Police high command that recommended the officers and the Commission that listed their deeds for deliberation and reward deserve commendation.
On the promotion list are CSP Sulaiman Muhammad Abdul, CSP Olusoji Akinbayo, Inspector Sunday Idowu, DSP Mu’awuyya A. Abubakar, Inspector Eheziekia Abiona and Sergeant Ogunbiyi Agbabu.
The Commission approved the promotion of CSP Sulaiman Muhammad Abdul to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police for his outstanding performance in the fight against corruption. CSP Abdul who currently works with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, reportedly recovered a whopping sum of N42 billion for the Federal Government in the course of his duty. He had earlier been commended by the former Inspector General of Police and recommended for consideration by the chairman of the EFCC.
In the same vein, the Commission also approved the promotion of CSP Olusoji Akinbayo to the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police and Inspector Sunday Idowu to the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Police for outstanding performance while serving at the Force Criminal Investigation Department, Abuja.
Both officers (Idowu and Akinbayo who serve at the CID, Abuja) were said to have rejected a bribe of $21,000 and another $12,900 from one Samuel Wilberforce. The officers, despite this huge inducement defied the temptation and arrested the pipeline vandalisation kingpin.
Similarly, DSP Mu’awuyya A. Abubakar of the Kano State Command was promoted to the rank of Superintendent of Police. DSP Abubakar was in 2014 awarded the best Crime Bursting Police Officer by the African Leadership Awards and Security Watch Africa. He had earlier received a commendation letter from Mr. President for exceptional display of courage and gallantry in counter-insurgency operations in Kano State.
Inspector Eheziekia Abiona and Sergeant Ogunbiyi Agbabu who are attached to the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences Unit (Task Force) also got promoted to the next ranks for recovering the sum of N5 million that fell off a bullion van in December 2015.
Certainly, the officers have portrayed the Nigeria Police Force in good light as they exhibited professionalism, fearlessness and incorruptibility in the conduct of their assignment.
It is fitting therefore to encourage the Commission, buoyed as it is by this rare integrity in the service, to live up to its vow to “enthrone honesty, responsibility and fear of God in the Nigeria Police Force.”
Indeed Nigeria’s regular dismal placement on the Transparency International (TI) annual corruption index has been embarrassing but not really surprising because it reflects the reality that Nigerians are conversant with. For instance, the brazen manner in which policemen extort money from motorists on the streets and on the highways has yet to change and the story is hardly different in other agencies of government.
Even the private sector is not innocent in this regard, though TI’s reports always focuses on the public sector. Many operators in the private sector, formal and informal, are as dishonest as their counterparts in the public sector. For example, many artisans and even various professionals engage in dishonest acts to cheat their customers and employers: they inflate quotations, use substandard materials in place of premium items in their quotations, and deliver shoddy jobs but expect to be paid the fees for premium services. This is the sordid reality that has made corruption a way of life in Nigeria.
It is just too saddening that this was never in the Nigerian character. Before now, the traditional values of honesty and integrity were etched in the veins of the Nigerian. Integrity of public officers was never in question as the General Orders (now Public Service Rules & Financial Instructions) reject, on paper and in reality, any form of unethical conduct. Sadly at the moment, there is pervasive moral decadence and the value system has changed very rapidly under all kinds of influences. Hard work, integrity and honesty have curiously disappeared. Instant millionaires with questionable sources of wealth, who have neither worked nor invested anywhere and, who used to be treated like lepers in the past, are today enthusiastically embraced with open arms and feted in the society.
There must indeed be deliberate efforts at moral re-armament and a shift in the value system to yield ground to decency and honest living such as displayed by those six police officers.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration must also continue to work hard to improve on Nigeria’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Investigating, arresting and bringing suspected looters of public assets to justice should be intensified no matter whose ox is gored.
In addition to encouraging whistle-blowers and instituting a reward system for them, more energy and resources, including technology, should be deployed to fine-tune the systems that will make it virtually impossible for civil and public servants to tamper with public assets.
The negative implications of corruption by the police for security of the citizens and national development cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore, combating this phenomenon will necessitate a holistic approach that transcends mere income improvement and promotion of a few officers that have refused bribes on their beats.
All the Police Reform reports should be dusted up for immediate implementation. The institution is too important and should not be trifled with if internal security means anything to the governing authorities in Nigeria.