Lagos: Taming Campaigns of Violence 


Saturday letter1

It was widely believed in Lagos State by politicians and voters alike that the immediate past Inspector – General of Police Mr Ibrahim Idris was trying to influence the 2019 elections in the state by deploying a former Chief Security Officer of the powerful former Lagos State governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as Lagos State Police Commissioner.  On January 13, 2019, it was announced that Mr Imohimi Edgal, Lagos State Commissioner of Police had been redeployed to the Force Headquarters in Abuja as the Police officer in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Unit while Mr Kayode Egbetokun, hitherto in charge of the Explosive Unit, would replace Edgal as the Lagos police boss.

 But that was not to last. The situation changed as soon as the IG left and was replaced. The new IG, Mr Mohammed Adamu reversed the postings made by his predecessor and so Edgal Imohimi returned to his duty post as Lagos State Police Commissioner. It was an action that was widely hailed. It came as a relief for many Lagosians because Mr Edgal was doing a yeoman’s job as a commissioner –trying so hard to rid the state of criminals. It was to his credit that many of these criminals, particularly the cultists who ruled Ikorodu, better known as “Badoo Boys,” were brought down: They paid the ultimate price or fled the state.

 So why did anyone want to change a winning team?

In addition, many Lagosians and others see Edgal Imohimi as a neutral and professional officer, the kind of officer needed to surpervise the forthcoming elections and ensure the security of voters and the integrity of the entire process.

 But politicians interpreted and reacted to the postings and reversals differently: while the ruling party in the state – the All Progressives Congress (APC) reportedly welcomed the initial posting, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was comfortable with the reversal and the status quo ante. The APC members reportedly were jubilating that the former security chief to the former Lagos State governor and chieftain of the party Asiwaju Tinubu would one way or the other help to influence the outcomes in both the presidential and governorship elections.

It will do the nation a world of good if the security agencies are allowed to perform their duties professionally without interference. It is clear why the two parties’ reacted differently to the posting: a lot to do with their electoral preparedness and chances in the 2019 elections in the state.

Indeed, when the deployments were first announced by the former IG it was widely speculated in APC camp that it was punishment from the top in Abuja, acting on information from the party’s chieftain in Lagos, for the then outgoing state police commissioner for not providing enough security  at the launch of the Mr. Babajide Sanwo – Olu, the APC governorship  campaign . Such negligence they felt led to the violence that greeted the launch of the campaign which indeed had to be abandoned after the state governor hurriedly delivered his speech in support of the man the leader had replaced him with at the APC primaries last year. Many evidently forgot that the prompt intervention of the police prevented what could have degenerated into an inflammable situation.

In the PDP camp, however, the reversal of the police postings was like a divine intervention that opened a new gate of opportunity for the party. The pessimism that the party’s candidate, Jimi Agabje, would be discouraged by the whims and caprices of a commissioner in the enemy camp to oversee the governorship election has given way to the optimism. God has intervened in the security of the people and indeed the elections. Jimi Agbaje is confident that on a level-playing ground leading to a free and fair election, he will win the governorship election. Indeed, to most Lagosians the reversal of the police commissioner’s posting showed that Agbaje’s time has come. As it is said, nobody can stop an idea whose time has come.

 Femi Sobowale, Lagos