Police and Government’s Hide and Seek With the Media

By Tunde Asaju

Who says the Naija police is slovenly sloppy in solving crimes and protecting the nation? Those who say so are either naïve or inexperienced. The police could exhibit efficiency and effectiveness when it suits them. At other times, it could feign ignorance, helplessness and incapacitation. Its high command comprises master bootlickers.

The people should never take a high command that could blatantly disobey the instruction of the president and commander in chief seriously. This is why we should take every statement from these ones with a pinch of salt. Bad officers are kept for bad jobs, such as rigging elections and clamping down on the opposition. In the battle for recognition as a corruption-fighting regime, this one would do anything to fool the vuvuzelas that unquestionably sing its praise.

It takes little to earn the trust and respect of Naija people. Ruiners know that respect counts for nothing here. If you fail to earn it by trust, buy it with stolen wealth or a stolen mandate, or both. This regime hires people not for their diligence but their capacity to conform with the status quo. It hardly fires errant members.

Kemi Adeosun’s ministerial twitter handle reads @HMKemiAdeosun. HM meaning Honourable Minister! Naija officials love the dictionary definition of the virtues they lack. The ‘honorable’ Mrs Adeosun stands accused of procuring a fake NYSC discharge certificate, but has kept her title and her job knowing that forgery and honour are parallel lines. Forgery is a garland for those in government, a crime to those out of it. Credibility is not an attribute required of ministers.

When Prof Yemi Osinbajo fired Lawal Daura as DG of the Directorate of State Security, DSS people forgot he’s part of the government that keeps Adeosun. They clapped and danced for his dynamism and sang like the Biblical David whose slaying of one Goliath made veteran Saul look like a hunter of ants and cockroaches.

Basking in that euphoria, Osinbajo travelled to a conference of Christian ministers in Lagos. There he blasted his collared colleagues for condoning the corruption that feeds their prosperity gospel. Nobody challenged the duplicity of that heckling. If Osinbajo were as proactive as his friends would like us have him, why are they keeping Adeosun without explanation for her apparent forgery?

Established police forces around the world crack cold cases. There are so many such cases here – from the murder of Dele Giwa to the killing of Alfred Rewane, Bola Ige, Suliat Adedeji and Harry Marshall.

Journalists are easy pick. A journalist’s professional integrity is a threat to the action of public officials hiding under borrowed titles. Jones Abiri was accused of trying to bomb oil installations. Apparently with his pen and paper as no evidence was adduced for this heavy accusation of economic sabotage. Yet the poor chap languished in DSS gulag for two years during which he was denied access to his lawyers, his doctors or even members of his family. It took advocacy for him to be brought before a judge that has now freed him.

Samuel Ogundipe is a criminal. His crime is that he uses his investigative journalism skills to unearth stories that the complicit in government wants buried in the official secrets act. But for his devotion to the tenets of his profession, we would not have known that the IG Idris dispatched a poorly worded memo to the vice-president. Until reading that letter, many had refused to join forces with those who berated the IG Idris for his inability to read a simple text written for his delivery. The national shame of his inability to march in sync with other service chiefs at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration was glossed over. If they couldn’t get Ogundipe compromised, they could detain him ad infinitum.

They framed and invited Ogundipe’s colleagues with capital offence and lured them to their offices. They then illegally seized her phone and used it to lure Ogundipe into their trap. Like any citizen with a clear conscience, Ogundipe showed up –they have now clamped him into detention and freed his colleagues. Next time the police parades armed robbery suspects, think twice – it could be a frame-up.

They want to torture a reporter into disclosing the source of his information because that’s what they do with investigating serious cases. When a journalist exposes his source, he loses credibility. Credibility is what most journalists live and die for. It’s not something that the IG and his ilk know about. Put Ogundipe and the IG into a credibility contest and the former would beat the latter by leaps and bounds.

The ink and blood of conscientious journalism paid for the freedom and democracy that we enjoy today. This is why this resurgent clampdown on the press would ultimately fail. Somebody tell these ruiners that intimidation would not triumph over truth. This clampdown on the media would be the end of the fraud called government in Naija. If they cow one, a hundred others, more daring would take their place.

This IG with no credibility should resign; go back to school or seek therapy to read, write and speak in a language befitting his office. If he behaves, Ogundipe could teach him about earning half the respect an investigative journalist has, but he won’t earn it by jailing or threatening the media.



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