The death, recently, of a former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Ahmadu Coomassie came as a sad development to his family and friends. He died at the Orthopaedic Hospital, Katsina, after a protracted illness. His passage has no doubt robbed not only the people of Katsina State, but the entire nation of the services of this urbane and forthright Police officer and statesman.
Born 76 years ago, precisely on March 18, 1942 in Katsina to the family of late Malam Ahmadu Coomassie, the late former IGP was an educationist and businessman who, in his life time, was a permanent secretary in the ministry of Education in the old Northern region. The young Coomassie attended the Central Elementary School, Katsina in 1950-52, the Middle School, Katsina in 1953-54, and later the Provincial Secondary School, Zaria in 1956-61. He moved to Barewa College,Zaria,1962-63. As a young Police officer, he attended the Detective Training course in Wakefield, United Kingdom in 1967, an overseas Officers course in Police Administration in the United States of America in 1973, as well as the Police Training School in the United Kingdom in 1975. Here in Nigeria, he attended the Police Staff College, Jos in 1980. He was an alumni of the famous National Institute for Policy and S strategic Studies, Kuru near Jos in 1981.
As a tested and proven Police officer, he was appointed the Inspector –General of Police, IGP, in 1993 to take over from Aliyu Attah as the ninth and longest serving IGP serving first under the Interim National Government (ING) of Chief Ernest Shonekan, and continued in that capacity in the late General Sanni Abacha military government that sacked the ING, as well as that of the General Abdulsalami Abubakar who midwifed the return to democracy. Subsequently, he retired from service on May 29 1999 as the then government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar handed over power to a democratically elect civilian government.
Coomassie will be fondly remembered for some ambitious and controversial actions. For instance, in 1996, he launched an investigation into Police actions during the military era of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida[1985-1993].Again, he would be remembered for his face-off with the American government when he was reported to have threatened to question the American Ambassador and other US Embassy staff over the spate of bombings of military targets across the country then. It would also be recalled that the then military government had variously accused the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, of being responsible and that the American diplomats were in the know about it.
Though a detribalised Nigerian, Coomassie was a leading and influential voice of the North and remained so until death. A thorough-bred professional who was passionate about the Nigeria project, his exemplary leadership qualities are worthy of emulation. It was in recognition of these qualities that the Emir of Katsina appointed him to a committee to oversee to the development and growth of Jama’atu Nasril Islam, JNI in the state. He later became a member of the board of Trustees /Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
Also, he bagged the prestigious traditional title of Sardaunan Katsina and became the Garkuwan Hausa of Daura. He was the pioneer Chairman of Council/Pro-Chancellor, Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, an institution in which he played a prominent role in its establishment and commencement of academic activities in January 2005.
The late Coomassie who suffered from serious injuries in a car accident, in which he spent some time in the Intensive care unit, is survived by a wife, six children and many grand children. No doubt, he has left an enviable track record which will be difficult to equal in this era, particularly his passion for the Nigerian project. He left no stone unturned in ensuring that long-lasting peace reigns not only in the North, but throughout Nigeria.
We join millions of Nigerians to console his family, the government and people of Katsina State. This newspaper is hopeful that the worthy legacies he left behind such as uprightness, promotion of peace across the nation’s geo-political zones, preaching of tolerance and commitment to Nigeria’s unity will be sustained by others. Late Coomassie ably played his part to make the Nigeria Police respectable and Nigeria a better place to live in .May his soul rest in peace.