Former Police Commissioner Abubakar Tsav served with distincton in Lagos and several other states in the country. In this interview with IGHO OYOYO, he alleges that dishonesty and corruption are the key triggers of the current state of insecurity that is claiming the lives of innocent Nigerians and generating considerable tension. He also spoke on several topical issues
The security challenge in the country is assuming alarming proportions, what is your reading of the unfolding tragedy?
The problems we have in this country today are unemployment and corruption. You find that the government is not taking care of the youths very well. Severe unemployment predisposes these young people to getting easily influenced to participate in hare-brained projects, no matter how deadly they may be. They will be available for it as far as it puts food on the table for them.
You remember in the protest against the removal of fuel subsidy, majority of the protesters were youths and in election the youths make more contributions in electing our leaders. Then, in the case of unemployment, majority of the unemployed are youths. So the entire thing revolves on the youth in the country. The government should try and find something for our youths to get them out of this restiveness and be useful to the nation in the positive way.
Once they are empowered positively, they will have no time to go and start involving themselves in these problems we are experiencing presently. The irony of the whole thing is that there are sufficient resources and enabling environment in the country for our government to create jobs for our youths, but corruption will not allow that to be possible.
I remember sometime ago when the Senate President, David Mark cursed pension administrators. What he said was very true, because Nigerians enter into the civil service and give the best of their lives to the service of the nation. The government appreciates their services and gives them a little token of money like pension and then the person in authority of the pension sits there and embezzles this money and he thinks that God will favour him.
You see, we have soldiers who fought during the civil war, some of them died and some of them lost their limbs during the process. We have nurses and doctors who are there trying to save lives; we have policemen who are always on the roads and streets at nights to provide security for people at night and during the day.
After suffering in these services, these categories of people will now retire, and then one wicked person will now sit down and embezzle their pensions, which is why many things that are not supposed to happen in this country are happening today.
Because there is a lot of dishonesty and there is a lot of corruption in this country. I am happy the Senate President said that Nigeria should think of prosecuting such people. If they start prosecuting them, people who are involved in corruption, dishonesty and those practicing nepotism in this country should also be dealt with; these are the things that are destroying us.
If we do things according to one’s merit there will be no clamour for sovereign national conference. If people exercise their rights as provided by the constitution, just like the constitution says that every citizen can live in any where in this country, there will no crisis.
So, if the constitution says we can live wherever we want to and then somebody comes and says that western education is a curse; that people who have gotten western education should live a particular region or be killed that is not right. It is callous.
We should comply with the provisions of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and do what the law says because as long as we are dishonest, corrupt and practice nepotism, tribalism and ethnic consciousness, we will never live in peace in this country.
Do you share the increasing apprehension that should things continue, especially with the increasing insurgencies in the country, it may lead to the breakup of Nigeria?
If the civil war did not divide Nigeria, how can Boko Haram come and breakup Nigeria? You see, the people in this country are interwoven. You find that somebody from Kano State has married either an Igbo or a Yoruba and they have children of different ethnic groups.
There are so many intermarriages in this country and the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, has made that possible. Then, one day you say, Nigeria should break up? There are certain areas in this country that have land for people to farm in, but there are some areas that do not have farmland.
People are talking about breaking up Nigeria because of the oil in Niger Delta, but before the advent of the oil, we have cotton wool, we have cocoa, groundnut pyramid and palm oil and some other mineral resources.
It was through these agricultural goods that we were able to get money to go and prospect for oil and build refineries in this country. As far as I am concerned, I do not think it is necessary to breakup Nigeria. Although, what people want in this country is to have the power to rule, make money and names, they do not want to rule for the interest of the ordinary person.
Because, if our people want the break away of Nigeria for the interest of the common person, every state governor would have been struggling to make jobs for our teeming youths in their states, but nobody cares about our young men roaming the streets.
What is the solution?
The solution is that every body in this country should obey the constitution; the leadership of the nation should show that example of being disciplined, honest and show the fear of God in their leadership. The truth is that it is dishonesty that is causing all this trouble in the country.
You see, some times you find in government, senior officials talking about corruption, but they are deeply involved in the corruption. That is what is happening in this country. If our leaders have the fear of God and completely obey the provisions of the constitution, for instance, the constitution says that anybody can live any where he or she likes.
That means, if you can live any where you like, then you can vote anywhere and be voted for too. But there are some areas that you go in this country and want to contest, they will say you are not an indigene. Our government and lawmakers hear this thing and they are not doing anything about it.
The law enforcement agencies hear this and they are not doing anything about it, and all these things are compounding the entire issues. It is because we are outlaws, we do not work with the laws in this country and we do not carry on the message the constitution is preaching to us as Nigerians. That is why every thing is degenerating in this country.
Looking at the Police Force, how will you rate the present reforms taking place in the force?
You see, these reforms that the present Inspector General of Police is introducing in the police force are already in the Police Acts and Regulations, but previous Inspector Generals of Police could not carry out those reforms because they were very soft to carry it out. If you are soft in the Police Force, you become weak and if you are weak, your people will not perform effectively.
Most times, what brings weakness in the police force is when you take part in corruption, when you accept money from your subordinates, when you allow subordinates to bring you girlfriends and if you allow your subordinates to know your weak points, then they will make you ineffective. These are the issues.
What do you think is wrong with our Police Force?
Definitely, lack of supervision and corruption; ethnicity and religious bigotry, these are the things are making our Police Force ineffective. You see, when an officer commits an offence and you as the head knew that that officer has committed an offence then you should take action against that officer, so that it will serve as deterrent to other officers.
But, if you fail to take action because the man was your squad mate or directly or indirectly related to you, this will make you as a superior very weak to act effectively. For example, wherever I served as Commissioner of Police in some states of Nigeria, the police behaved very well.
When I was posted to Ibadan for instance, every weekend policemen that were posted as Orderlies to Judges and other senior citizens will gather themselves and go out to mount checkpoints at different junctions, just to make money for themselves, but I changed that the moment I stepped it.
I called all the DPOs that I do not want any body to give me money and any body who does that will have himself to blame, and that any body caught taking bribe, the DPO will be held responsible.
I did not stop there. I went out supervising them to ensure that my orders were not flouted. I arrested many of them and disgraced them and sanity returned to the police because I supervised them myself. I did the same thing in Lagos State and other states I served and the police behaved well and the level of corruption was low.
So, if the present police chief wants a complete reformed Police Force and that the Policemen should be efficient, he should make sure that any Commissioner of Police in whose area that a Policeman is found taking bribe, that Commissioner should be queried if the Commissioner fails to query the DPO in whose area the corrupt act was detected.
Secondly, Commissioners should judge their officers in the CID by the numbers of cases that they successful investigated in a year. How many were charged to court and convicted and how many were under investigation.
But you find that somebody will be posted to the CID, and for over two to five years, that person will never send a case to the court or have any body convicted. Such people are not detectives, they are only bribe collectors. That was what I did when I was in office, I check the files of the CIDs, if you have not done well, I will give you a query, or if you are a junior rank, you will be defaulted and tried or you will be removed from the CID.
Even among senior officers, there are officers who have commanded CID for several years, yet there is not a single case they have taken to court for several years.
Even with the present system, find out right from the time of former Inspector General of Police, Gambo up till now, how many star cases were investigated and prosecuted that leads to conviction, may be you will not get up to ten.
So, that is the thing, if you want people to be efficient, they must do their jobs very well, you must make them do their jobs very well. You find that some policemen will have up to a hundred uncompleted case files. Such policemen get away with them because of the fact that the senior officers fail to supervise them. If they supervise them, such will not happen.
What do you think the Federal Government can do to put an end to this insecurity challenges and endless bomb blasts in the country?
We must apply stringent laws. There are laws meant to govern the conduct of the evil people in this country. When certain people commits offences, they do not try them, they do not take them to court because they are special people and when you start giving preferential treatments to people like that, you are creating problems for the country. Some people feel that they can do any thing in this country and get away with it, which is why there is no security in the country.
That is why President Goodluck Jonathan must stand up to his responsibility as the President of Nigeria and not for the Niger Delta region only. The bombing of ThisDay, the Moment and the Sun Newspapers in Abuja and Kaduna, and the further threats to bomb other media houses is a very sad and callous act of intimidation designed to deflect the press from publishing the truth and I condemn it in the strongest terms. I think our state of insecurity is worsening and has gone beyond Boko Haram.
President Goodluck Ebelle Jonathan must wake up from his slumber and assume his role as the President of Nigeria instead of limiting himself to the Delta region.
As long as we allow corruption to thrive in Nigeria, so long shall we continue to compromise our security. It is only in Nigeria that youths demonstrate in support of corruption rather that against it. How can there be peace and security?