Joseph Mbu – An Officer On Rampage?

JOSEPH MBU is supposedly a trained police officer and goes around with the rank of an Assistant Inspector General, but he behaves like his high office demands. How this man has managed to make it through the police force all these many years without evidence of ever being made to account for any act of professional misconduct is a testimony to how people can rise to positions of authority or the very top of their profession in Nigeria without the kind of training required of such position.

That a senior public officer, indeed a police officer of Mbu’s rank, could make the type of utterance attributed to him recently on violence in the 2015 election and for which the police hierarchy was forced to embark on damage control confirms yet again the fact that the rise or fall of public officers depend on who and not what they know. Joseph Mbu has shown that he is in the good books of powerful godfathers such that even his own boss, Suleiman Abah, had to find a way round his antics rather than handing him an open reprimand (for the sake of the public who have to endure his unbecoming behaviour) for his reckless utterances and action.

Joseph Mbu, only recently transferred to Lagos from Abuja where he was beginning to run amok as he did in Rivers State, made the utterly unprofessional comment to the effect that for every one police personnel killed during the forthcoming elections, he would kill twenty of those responsible for that one death. In his words, ‘If one of my men is killed, I shall kill 20 of them… .’ By ‘them’ Mbu means Nigerians, not condemned criminals or any of the insurgents that kill Nigerians at random for no greater offence than that they are Nigerians.

That Mbu advised his so-called men not to shoot first in his anticipated encounter between them and others is not enough consolation to Nigerians that are naturally alarmed by his line of thought. What is of concern to Nigerians is why a public servant employed to serve the citizens would threaten to use the weapons bought with their (taxpayers’) money to kill them. The people had not trained the likes of Mbu and handed them arms bought with their money only to have their lives snuffed out by the same police officers they train and pay to protect them.

Mbu made his open call to violence about a fortnight ago but since then nobody appears to have called him to order or made him offer apologies for his comments. What the IG, Suleiman Abah, seems to have done is speak through Emmanuel Ojukwu, the Police spokesperson, that officers of the Force have been advised to apply caution in their use of firearms. This was an obvious refutation of Mbu’s remarks. Although it is well that the IG should speak in this manner, it is even probable that he has cautioned Mbu privately, but nothing stops Mbu apologising to Nigerians for threatening to kill them in the manner he did.

He is a public officer who made his remarks publicly. He should be made to make his apologies publicly. A private reprimand would not be enough in this instance. Mbu ought to be made to make his apologies in a manner that would show he is truly contrite. Although an employee of the Nigerian Police, bound by the police code of conduct, Mbu seems to operate by his own code. As a police man in an area of the country dominated by the opposition, it is easy to see Mbu’s comment against those he vowed to kill as a warning to politicians and others in these parts that he has the job of an enforcer on his hand. He has turned himself into an enforcer for the Peoplezs Democratic Party, PDP. Yes, Mbu sees his job as that of doing whatever he thinks would advance the cause of the PDP. He had enough training for his present role while serving as police commissioner in Rivers State. He was openly partisan and took sides with the party in its turf war with Rotimi Amaechi whose authority as governor of the state was challenged by Mbu.

After misbehaving in Port-Harcourt and was kept on to continue his harassment of the state governor after many thought he should have been moved elsewhere if not sacked, he was transferred to Abuja when he had completed the job of flogging the president’s ‘enemies’ into line, to ‘shake up’ the president’s perceived opponents in the capital city. For his unprofessional ways, Mbu was rewarded with a promotion and was at a time touted as a possible IG before his latest transfer.

Before and since he took on the job of the president’s enforcer, nothing important was or has been known of Mbu. Other than harassing the perceived enemies of the president, his wife and the PDP, Mbu has not in any way distinguished himself. He has become more political than the most partisan office seeker. He talks without any sign that he had thought deeply before making his comments. His primary purpose seems to do the bidding of the president and his wife and by extension the bidding of the ruling party. And he is surely doing this to the satisfaction of his patrons or he would not be promoted and allowed to go on with his bolekaja ways. But he must be reminded of the limits of his excesses, and inviting violence against Nigerians cannot be acceptable.

Nobody can or should justify the killing of a police officer, especially in the line of duty. In spite of all the shortcomings associated with the Police Force Nigerians are better off protected by the police. But even without Mbu’s call to arms, many are the homes made sorrowful for life by the unprovoked and trigger-happy activities of our police personnel. To make an open call for police officers to kill under whatever guise is therefore criminal and Mbu ought to or should be compelled to apologise or in the alternative resign.