The David Jemibewon Exclusive 5: “Why Nigeria Police is dying” + What makes the Army better than the Police

General David Medayese Jemibewon (CFR, mni)

In this fifth edition of our
exclusive encounter with General David
Medayese Jemibewon
(CFR, Mni), the General shared his idea of a better,
well equipped and excellent  Nigeria
Police Force with your Africa’s Number 1 Celebrity Encounter blog, Asabeafrika.
The Iyah-Gbedde, Kogi State (North
Central Nigeria) born elder statesman who served as Nigeria’s Minister of
Police Affairs in the fourth republic, between June 1999 and June 2000 equally
wrote a book on the  ills of the Nigeria
Police Force after his regime as first military Governor of Oyo State in 1978.  
Jemibewon is a former Governor of Western State of Nigeria under late General Murthala Mohammed’s regime between August 1975 and March 1976. He
later became the first Governor of Oyo State after Oyo; Ogun & Ondo were
carved out of the old Western States. He ruled Oyo under Obasanjo’s military regime between March 1976 and July 1978 before
he was promoted as Adjutant General of the Nigerian Army towards the end of
1978.  He came back to limelight in 1999
when he was appointed Minister of Police Affairs under President Olusegun
civilian regime, a position he held with transformative strides
till year 2000.
Enjoy the excerpts in this fifth part
of our encounter with the General.

Let’s quickly look at the Nigeria
Police Force. In your days as Minister of Police Affairs, you brought a lot of
innovation to the force, you even established the Police Service Commission.
But today, the reputation of the Nigerian Police is soiled beyond words. How do
you think we can redeem the Nigerian Police Force?

Nigeria Police logo

 I wrote a book on ‘Police; promise, prospect and the future’. Yes, we need real
structural change in the Police force, which is a big debate right now. It is
almost similar to the Nigerian situation. The men and women of the Nigerian Police
Force are also Nigerians, a lot of
them went to good schools just like those we have in the army. But, I don’t
know…I don’t just know (Shakes his head disdainfully) The work of police is
largely different from army work. In the Army, if you are doing a project which
can be called ‘operation’, it must have an end. If there is riot somewhere now,
and you send the army there, it has a beginning, it has an end.

General DM Jemibewon analyzing Police Work and Army Work

But police work
does not have an end. So, that makes the two organizations incomparable. Then,
in the army, of course the situation has changed now, but many years ago, if
you are illiterate and they admit you to the army, army has a responsibility to
make you literate. There are people who came to the army without any education
at all and they ended up with education. It is believed that you have to be
educated enough for you to be able to operate and maneuver some of the machines operated by the army. You must know how to break down your gun,
clean it and assemble it. If you are a driver, you must know what we call ‘best
parade’ ‘stop parade’ and so on. You must be able to have little knowledge. If
your car is not moving, work on it, is it the electrical? Is it mechanical?, is
it fuel?

Logo of the Nigeria Army

The army want to train you to be able to take care of your life and
training does not stop. From inception to platoon, to company, to battalion, to
Brigade and so on. And once in a year, a battalion must be tested. I am not
sure all these training happen in the police. Then, it has always been one
army, the Nigeria Army. But there used to be NA Police, Local Government
Police, and Nigeria Police before they were put together some years ago.
Because of the nature of their job, which is never finished, they are always
beaten so to say, and they are involved in all major crimes. If you fight your
girl friend, you call police, if you fight your wife, you call police. Somebody
seize your goat, you call police, your chicken, you call police.

Is bail free with the Nigeria Police?

So, ordinarily,
then, the police themselves are weighed down. the problem Nigeria has is the problem Nigeria
has. People don’t seem to want to tell the truth. Take for example I
was governor here (Ibadan—Oyo State) and we worked. And when I was no more
governor within six months, I have written my own book—‘a combatant in government’. And in that book, I suggested that we
should decentralize the Nigeria Police.

That was then, in the 70s?

The General & his soldier boys at a function

Yes, I said
government should decentralize the Nigerian
. It is in my book. Nigeria
has gotten to a situation where I will suggest what I call ‘specialize session’. If a man is in the Nigeria
and he is a shoe shiner, let us recruit him to be shining shoes. If
he is a cook, let’s recruit him for cooking, if he is a driver let’s recruit him
for driving. Then, the real police work like investigation, interrogation and
so on should all be on specialization and the force decentralized. Now, tell
me, you bring somebody from the north to come and become a police man in Lagos, how can it work? Or you take
someone from Lagos to Calabar, how does it work? But that does
not mean that everybody in the Police force in Lagos must be Lagosian,
no, there are Hausas staying in Lagos, if you recruit those people, it is
still from Lagos. And because of the
fear by these politicians, why can’t we have state police?

General Jemibewon explaining the details of regional and state police to the GDA

I made my own
recommendation that ‘let us have state police’. In fact at the time, we had 12
states not 36, why can’t we have zonal police? I was the first Nigerian to
suggest zoning of police in Nigeria
and it is in my book and I was not afraid of anything because I knew I was
making this suggestion for the development of my country.

The GDA engaging the General on the hot topic of Police Reputation in Nigeria
You mean Zonal police command? 
Mr. Ibrahim Idris, Current Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police
Why don’t we
constitute the whole west and make them have one police command and we can call
it ‘Western Police Command’.

General David Jemibewon to Asabeafrika…’I feel ashamed for those against regional police concept in Nigeria’

But they were afraid that politicians or governors
will misuse them but that does not arise because there are nothing less than 4
or 5 governors in each zones; and of course we could also do it this way, that
50% of the police spread in this zones should be the indigenes or people who
resides in the place, the remaining 50% could be divided into 25% from here and
25% from there. Then, you are gradually dissolving the national mindset. But
what I find very uncomfortable is that even former Inspector Generals of Police
that are supposed to see the beauty of this idea are the people who will say ‘if we go into zonal police, there will be
. Which war? If a leader is a blind man, how can he show the way? If
you as an IG don’t support decentralization, who can promote decentralization?
It is such a dilemma.  


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