Solomon Arase: The irregular policeman
By Dr.Muiz Banire SAN
Ordinarily, upon the nomination of the subject of this conversation, Solomon Arase, as the chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), I would have done an expository of the personality of the man with whom I have had a great relationship in decades back. This would have enabled Nigerians appreciate the pedigree of the man that has been nominated to pilot the affairs of the PSC. Apart from this, the pedestal would also have enabled me commend the President for putting a round peg in a round hole. This is a scarce commodity in the appointments under this administration.
I make bold to say that this is another appointment in the nature and ilk of Professor Ishiaq Oloyede, Abdul Rasheed Bawa, Bolaji Owasanoye and Gen. Buba Marwa (retd.), which the President has got right. They are appointments devoid largely of any political or parochial consideration. To my mind, they are exceptional appointments by the President that deserve commendation.
Quite apart from the above reasons, I am triggered by the spurious letter addressed to the national chairman of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress (APC), and copied to all material stakeholders of the party by one Omogbolahan L.A. Babawale, ccnvener, Think-Tinubu Initiative, also a supposed member of the Policy, Research and Strategy Committee of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, which was in circulation in the social media.
In the said correspondence, the author has alleged that Arase, the chairman-designate of the Police Service Commission is not only a card-carrying member of the opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but the chairman of the sub-committee on security of the PDP convention held between October 30 and 31, 2021.
He further claimed, in a manner suggestive of a romance, that the subject hails from Agenebode area of Edo State, the same area from which High Chief Raymond Aleogho Dokpesi, chairman of the Atiku Technical Committee for the 2023 election, is from. This alone renders him unfit to be appointed, in his view. As far as the author is concerned, such a man is undeserving of such position as he would have preferred a person sympathetic to the cause of the ruling party and his candidate, or at least a supposed non-partisan candidate. In further wallowing in ignorance, he contended that the routine posting of police commissioners is squarely the responsibility of the chairman of the PSC, which he is already abusing by effecting the changes in the leadership of the police force in the two western states of Lagos and Ogun.
He then concluded the letter by suspecting internal sabotage of his party’s candidate’s chances in the forthcoming election, part of the scheme being the appointment of Arase as the chairman of the PSC. I know that Arase will not join issues with such a person, but it behoves other men of good conscience, who are familiar with the pedigree of the nominee, to appropriately respond. This task I am dutifully discharging in this regard. The danger in not reacting is that, if such lies being publicly peddled assume a life of their own and remain unchallenged, in not too long a distance it will start resembling the truth. In addition, I had watched out for a rebuttal from the APC presidential campaign team but, strangely, none came forth. I want to honestly believe that this is not an endorsement of the content of the said letter but a characteristic slip.
This curiosity further reinforced my conviction for this engagement. Prior to discharging this task, let me state that I do not know who the said author is and my initial reaction was to pass off the letter as being sponsored by the contestants for the position, either using the author as a front or a wailer, sort of. Furthermore, I would have been doubtful of the author’s identity as spelt out in the letter but for the fact that he supplied further particulars of not only being a convener of a supposed pro-Tinubu group, but also a member of the Policy, Research and Strategy Committee of the candidate’s campaign council, which has not been denounced. If this is the quality such a committee is made of, then the candidate, to say the least, is already endangered in his quest. If the author had done his research, he would have known that, as far back as 2009, the Lagos State Government had, through a letter of commendation, acknowledged the professionalism of the chairman-designate.
Beyond the above, the author further demonstrated his ignorance by equating the commission with the chairman-designate, forgetting or pretending not to know that there are other well-meaning Nigerians of high integrity, including a retired Supreme Court Justice, in the PSC. One wonders, assuming without conceding that the commission does transfer of officers, would the chairman alone dictatorially execute the task? Certainly, this is an impossibility.
Of recent, It is now becoming a pattern for the defenders of Asiwaju to misfire, which is doubtful if they sought the permission of the man before making such gaffes. This is certainly not unconnected with the fact that most of these latter-day disciples know little or nothing about the candidate. Their acts and utterances end up hurting the campaign than adding value. One would have expected someone, somewhere, to check the indiscretions of these people and put a lid on their activities. The director-general of the campaign and his team appear to be snoring in this regard. Maybe, however, nobody is actually in charge. This void, therefore, renders it necessary in the context of our conversation that this response be made in order to promptly tame the misrepresentations contained in the circulating letter and put the issues in proper perspective. In doing this, I will take the opportunity to satisfy my other motive of showcasing the man, Solomon Arase, as I know him. As hinted above, this expository is supposed to come after the swearing in of the nominee but the said outburst constrained it.
The much known about Arase is that he was the Inspector-General of Police between 2015 and 2016 and, consequently, the head of the Nigeria Police Force. Apart from growing through the ranks of the operational commands of the Nigeria Police Force, he was a principal staff officer to several Inspectors-General of Police. Arase is not only a political scientist but a lawyer of high repute. Arase graduated in 1980 as a political scientist and, subsequently, enrolled for law. He is not only a Bachelor’s degree holder in Law but a Master and Doctor of Laws with requisite professional qualifications. As an aside, he possesses also Master’s degree in Strategic Studies. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. In the course of his career as a police officer, he attended several courses in Ivory League institutions such as the Harvard University, Kennedy School, Cambridge. With his insatiable academic appetite, he published five books, which are, National Security: Intelligence and Community Partnership Approach, in 2013; Nigeria Police Force, The Journey So Far, also in 2013; Monograph on Criminal Investigation, 2010; Policing Nigeria in the 21st Century, a joint publication with Iwuafor, I.P.O., in the year 2007; and Legal Framework for the Prevention and Detection of Crimes by the Police in Nigeria, published by him in the year 2016.
The distinction between his degrees and that of multiple others is that he earned his degrees and the outputs confirm this. In contemporary times, we are all living witnesses of how public officials and others ‘buy’ degrees from institutions, or procure same, preferably. Arase won many distinctions in the course of his professional career as a policeman. He won national honours of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a Commander of the Federal Republic in 2022; commendation letter from the then Chief Justice of Nigeria in 2015 for initiatives and leadership in criminal justice delivery; National Police Medal bestowed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2013; commendation letter from the Lagos State Government for Professional Competence, Human Rights Observance and Facilitation of Criminal Justice Administration in 2009 and award for Best Essay on Internal Security by the Nigerian Defence Academy in 2008. Arase, since June 2018 till date, has been a drafter on the investigative interviewing sub-group of the Steering Committee on Prevention of Torture. He also remains the facilitator/external examiner of the Nigeria Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, from 2016 till date.
He is a facilitator/guest lecturer at the National Defence College, Abuja, for a similar period. Having said this, I am sure that by now you will be wondering why I so described the man as an irregular policeman. In ordinary parlance, regularity presupposes normalcy, connoting that a regular policeman creditably performs his duty. However, in the Nigerian police context, the regularity imports abnormality in the sense of negativity, implying that a regular policeman in Nigeria is a terror. I need not start detailing the atrocities of the Nigeria Police Force as that much is known to Nigerians.
Let me not pretend not to appreciate the root causes of some of the misconducts by most policemen. I have, in some of the editions of this column, analyzed this, hence will not bother to bore you with any repetition. Suffice, however, to say that the environment that births the policemen as well as the one in which they work, including the conditions of service, cannot give us any better Nigeria Police Force than we have. I am aware of several efforts at reforming the institution in the recent past but all these still largely constitute a drop in the ocean. Hence, where you notice an exceptional policeman, he is best aptly captured as an irregular policeman. This is what Solomon Arase depicts.
So, when you discuss Nigerian policemen, bear in mind that not all of them are regular in the context of negativity, as there are some that are positively exceptional and fall in the realm of the irregular Nigerian policemen. Arase fits into this class. I am not aware of his partisanship alluded to by the author of the script referred to earlier. Even where he abhors such tendency, I am sure that it will never influence his official conduct. He has demonstrated this over time and is not a question of conjecture. He has travelled widely and is well exposed and acquainted with global standards. Who else then better fits the bill? Not one that I readily know.
If the reactions within the police circle is something to go by upon the announcement, one will know that he is a well-accepted man in the circle. He is definitely not a man that some marauders can just wake up and disparage or denigrate in the name of politics. When engaging in politics, politicians must know where to draw the line.
Character assassination must be eschewed, as most times, we don’t appreciate what it has taken such a person to build such an angelic reputation before attempting to dent the reputation. Please touch not my anointed is the injunction of God and Solomon Arase is God’s anointed. I counsel that politicians adhere to this if they want to avoid incurring the wrath of God. I congratulate you, my brother, hoping and praying that you will deliver in the same manner you have been doing in the past under various assignments.
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