The (in)famous Mbu Joseph Mbu seems to have woken up from the slumber that overtook him since he landed in Abuja, reincarnating the crudity with which he interacted with Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state.
Mbu Joseph Mbu, if you haven’t heard about him, is a police officer and Rivers state police commissioner who had serious running battle with Amaechi, the civilian governor of the state. So much was the battle that Mbu was seen as running a parallel government in police uniform, taking instruction only from ‘Abuja’ as Amaechi was running his own government in civilian cap. Though unform and civilian normally should operate at different levels, Mbu was doing more politicking than Amaechi then.
And before one could say ‘Rivers,’ Mbu found himself transferred to Abuja, the centre of political scheming. Perhaps, his boss or bosses had seen in him the ability to create controversies, navigate in them and damn the consequences.
The first controversial official pronouncement he made since arriving in the federal capital was the declaration on Monday, of a ban on public protests in the federal capital territory against the abduction by Boko Haram, of 276 female students of the Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Borno state. By such declaration, Mbu has simply made it known that he is back at his crudity, either by his own calculation or as a proxy.
His ban on protests is a byproduct of the movement by the #BringBackOurGirls# led by Hadiza Bala Usman and a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili.
In the last 44 days, they have pressed home the call on government to ensure safe and quick return of the Chibok schoolgirls.
Mbu, in reaction to series of such protests said that he would not fold his arms and allow the protest degenerate into lawlessness. Lawlessness???
He claimed that his action is aimed at preventing those who want to perpetrate evil by hiding under the protests from do so, saying that he had information that some people were planning to mingle with the protesters to detonate bomb at the venue of the #BringBackOurGirls sit-out at the Unity Fountain so as to embarrass the government.
“The trend,” Mbu said of the protest, “is now posing a serious security threat to those living around and citizens who drive through. As the FCT Police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness” (Lawlessness???).
“Information reaching us is that too soon dangerous elements will join the groups under the guise of protest and detonate explosive aimed at embarrassing the government.”
It appears that Mbu has forgotten that Nigeria is in democracy, and operating a constitution that allows people free assembly and movement among others.
It is becoming clear that our law enforcement agents are abdicating their constitutional responsibilities in a democratic set up and trying to tailor the society to suit their lazy disposition to enforcing law.
Even in a dictatorial system, the police owe it a duty to look beyond the ordinary rumour (which Mbu now engages in) by providing effective security even in the worst of situation, and has no business restricting people from expressing their feelings the way they want to.
Of course, the rumour and or hypothetical reasoning by Mbu that some bad elements might hide under the peaceful protests by the bringbackourgirls campaigners begs the issue and portray the police as a bunch of lazy men and women in uniform.
Except their is more to the ban than people outside the system don’t know, Mbu is clearly bringing a strange elements into Nigeria’s kind of democracy.
He may need to define the meaning of this new system of banning public protests under whatever guise, genuine or self-serving to those whose knowledge of democracy is different.
Even though, the police High Command rose to disown Mbu hurriedly a day after (Tuesday), because of the negative international implications on Nigeria, fact remains that the police men and women are treating the constitutional matter with disdain while finding soft spot to sleep, away from their job.
‘Advisory Notice’ to the protesters, as the counter statement from the Force Headquarters’ Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Frank Mba described the new directive did not cancle Mbu’s outright ban of same.
The Police would do well to go back to the drawing board on their proper roles in a case such as this. They ought to know that what they are expected to do is, among others, provide guidance, protection to and surveillance to participants at rallies, protests and similar other actions.
Or are the police saying that they don’t have the capacity to carry out such simple civil duty?