By Michael Egbejumi-David
Throughout history and throughout the world, some names have become synonymous with wickedness and negativity. Some names are only famous for their notoriety. Joseph Mbu, the current Commissioner of Police in Abuja, seem to want to haul himself into this league.
Mr. Mbu has been cultivating the negative side of things for quite some time. Through hard work and sheer doggedness, he is succeeding in planting his name in infamy, where he appears most comfortable.
A lot of Nigerians only became aware of the name, Joseph Mbu when the man operated as the parallel governor of River State. But before he got the pink slip and was forced out of Port Harcourt, brother Mbu was a Deputy Commissioner in Anambra State, I think, at the time when the then governor, Chris Ngige was bundled into the boot of a very small car, whisked off, and was locked away for a moment or two in an audacious Igbo-made coup. A few years later, Mbu reared his head as Police Commissioner in Oyo State. There, he led the team that sacked the palace of one Ashipa in a most humiliating manner. Mbu claimed that he was enforcing a court order in the Alaafin versus Ashipa faceoff. The Ashipa lost. To this day, the Ashipa chap has not fully recovered.
No, Mbu did not turn up in River state with the kind of CV that would make any State executive overjoyed. Shortly after he arrived Port Harcourt, and without any prompting, Mbu forcefully declared that he would not be pocketed. That was the first signal that the man was sent to Port Harcourt to do a hatchet job. And it didn’t take too long at all before the script unfolded, with our ubiquitous First Lady casting herself – not for the first time – in the Director’s role. The rest is unpalatable history.
But before Commissioner Mbu departed River state, Governor Amaechi lost the rest of his hair. Mbu also ensured that the House of Assembly became an arena for inelegant kerfuffle – with broken heads and broken egos thrown in for good measure. He made sure that State legislators with distended bellies laid prostrate on a well swept road at least a couple of times. And his final act was to set free the thugs that were used for these and other nefarious enterprise.
So when a couple of weeks or so ago organised thugs surfaced at Unity Square in Abuja wearing t-shirts that proclaimed “Release our Girls” and then proceeded to smash up the chairs and other logistics of legitimate peaceful protesters, with plenty of police officers at hand, grinning from ear to ear, everyone looked in the direction of the Police Commissioner. You just knew that if there was going to be unpleasantness introduced into the whole colourful, dignified, and peaceful protest in Abuja on behalf of the missing Chibok school girls, it was going to come via Joseph Mbu.
That is what the man does. He appears to know no convivial or positive way to carry out his duties. For him, it’s all about malfeasance, repression and heavy-handedness. After the all too convenient introduction of a rival protest group of hardened thugs, Mbu then declared that dangerous elements were about to hijack the protest. Then he proclaimed, “Protests on the Chibok girls are hereby banned with immediate effect. As the FCT police boss, I cannot fold my hands and watch this lawlessness.” In banning the ‘#bring back our girls’ heart-warming protests, he said, “People have been protesting over a month now…when you continue to do it persistently, it becomes a nuisance to the government.
Maybe we should just tell him: Over 200 innocent school girls abducted by criminals for more than 50 days with no end in sight is more than a nuisance and is far more embarrassing to the government. Wild eyed male thugs intimidating mainly female peaceful protesters and smashing up their chairs and equipment while the police look on with gleeful eyes in the presence of the international media is a damn sight more embarrassing for the government.
Naturally, the organisers of the protests headed to court and, thank heavens, saner voices prevailed over the weekend and Mbu’s ill-advised ban was rescinded. I don’t know why some people insist in portraying Nigeria as a jungle, as an uncaring space. And I don’t know why or how Jonathan has somehow mastered the art of stealing defeat from every situation.
The other time, when things got too tight for Joseph Mbu, after he’d realised that he had been used and was about to be dumped, he rushed off to the press and plonked down for some sophomoric and weepy salutation ads to congratulate his boss, the IG for being on the job for two years. Following the reversal now of his haughty ‘#bring back our girls’ protest ban, and realisation that he might be sidelined again, God only knows to what Mbu might resort to starve off another possible shuffle down the road. It won’t surprise me if the IG comes home one day to find Royal Fathers from his place waiting for him in his sitting room with their game faces on – that is after he might have driven past two brand new, half nourished cows (advert space don’t come cheap) tied down in his front yard.
As Police Commissioner, Mr. Mbu ought to concentrate his effort at this time to providing effective security for Abuja during the oncoming FIFA world cup games rather than consolidating his reputation as government ‘go to’ guy when there’s a dirty job to be done.In the meantime, if I were Bala Mohammed, the FCT minister, I would start a rigorous regime of fasting and prayer, preferably on Fridays, until Mbu packs his bags and muskets and hits the road again.
Michael Egbejumi-David via email@example.com