It is no longer news. CP Sikiru Akande has been redeployed from Cross River State. He has been asked to resume at the force headquarters in Abuja while CP Alhassan Aminu, is to take over from him.
From the day he was announced as CP of Cross River State, almost every commentator in the State hailed him as a decent police officer who worked initially in the State as a Mopol Commander. I was surprised myself that people could speak so nicely of a police officer following my own terrible experience in the hands of the police. I did not know him and had never met him then. His return to the State also came with plenty of sanity, not just in policing the State but also in the behavior of police officers in the State and I have written about that earlier. Statistically, he brought down crime in the State drastically. After meeting him, I noticed he was in a familiar environment and was down to earth. He had a full grasp of the State and people were very comfortable giving him Intel.
As much as Akande was loved by Cross Riverians, so much so, was he disliked by Governor Ayade. CrossRiverWatch has reported that the Governor took Akande’s matter to the Presidency and requested his redeployment because he is allegedly too close to the opposition and the critical civil society in the State. But in reality those are the least of the reasons governor Ayade wanted Akande out.
Like most governors will want to do, Governor Ayade wanted the CP to do his bidding and it appears CP Akande wasn’t playing ball. In case you don’t know, Governor Ayade officials hold the record of using the Police to arrest their foes and bundling them from anywhere in Nigeria to Calabar than any other administration in Cross River State. From Calabar to Bakassi to Obudu to Yala to Etung, their primary response to crisis, criticism, dispute, argument, opposition and even perceived disloyalty, is to use the police against you. And they all learnt that from the governor himself. Yes, from him! And this pattern appeared to have been disrupted in some manner by CP Akande. He simply did not kow-tow. The way and manner the governor wanted the CP to treat the opposition and his critics was not the way the CP treated them and the thing is tormenting the carapace of the governor’s heart. He has resorted to using his new ADC to do the dirty jobs. His ADC now leads the hooded strike team in the governor’s convoy to arrest people up and down in Calabar because he is not accountable to the CP.
Now the governor has had his way. CP Akande is gone. Gone from Cross River not from the Police. No CP was ever meant to serve anywhere forever. It is also a routine in the police service to move CPs around. Akande’s case wasn’t going to be different, regardless of the circumstances in which he is leaving. But I want to make some other observations and I will like Cross Riverians to take serious note of this.
First, apart from the fact that CP Akande is a decent police officer, if the level of consciousness and awareness in our State was not high and the critical online media in the State was also not alert, Akande like his predecessors, would have perpetrated the same impunity without let or hinder. That awareness and call for accountability must be sustained and increased.
The cooperation, solidarity and camaraderie among the critical civil society and the media in the State, also helped to mount pressure on the police with particular regards to how they behave and respond to attempts by government officials to use them against their perceived foes. That cooperation must be boosted.
Evil is best perpetrated in darkness and if there is constant illumination and awareness and call for accountability, it will be very difficult for any police commissioner or even an Inspector General of Police to oppress the people. Akande has set a standard and Cross Riverians must insist that the standard he has set is the minimum we will accept from his successor and in the future.
CP Alhassan who is succeeding Akande must be owned by Cross Riverians. The generality of the people must rally round him like we did to Akande and assure him that we are ready to assist him succeed in Cross River if he is willing to serve us. We must not perceive him with a made-up mindset but give him a benefit of the doubt and remain vigilant to any sign of political interference in his work.
Since the governor has chosen political expediency over effective policing, cry not for Akande, he will move to “juicier” posting and may even become IGP someday. But cry for Ayade, because he is learning new dance steps at old age, without minding the strength of his waist.
Agba Jalingo, a journalist and rights activist is a Cross Riverian and writes in from Lagos.
NB: Opinions expressed in this article are strictly attributable to the author, Agba Jalingo and do not represent the opinion of CrossRiverWatch or any other organization the author works for/with.
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