There was a mild drama and one which typified the Nigerian story yesterday at Magodo Brooks, an estate situated on CMD Road, Ikosi, part of Kosofe Local Government. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu, had a function to attend in the estate but was delayed by security guards at the gate. Finding his long delay offensive, he allegedly arrested the guards on duty.
There are Residents Associations in every estate in the state and they have their rules, including those engaging visitors. Brooks is a smaller estate compared to Magodo Phase II, and in Brooks, their rule to visitors is standard: your host would have called the gate and handed your details.
As you identify yourself on arrival, and it tallies with the information provided by the resident, whom you’re visiting, you’d be granted access immediately. Simplicita! Every guest to the estate, no matter who, knows this and to avoid what happened to the Commissioner, we’d have told our host: “Please, call your people, I’m close”.
Whatever happened to Mr. Odumosu, is a question his supposed host should answer, but the estate is not expected to bend its rules for him. Perhaps, we can argue poor discretion on the part of the guards, it was not enough to haul them in your detention. Even worse, he exercised no discretion either.
I have read arguments about the state ordering gated estates to pull down their gates. That’s not correct. The order is for streets, especially, the contiguous ones. Estates are not affected by the order and if you have a contrary proof, please, show it. There are estates all over the world and no commissioner of police would dare what Mr. Odumosu did.
I have been to estates in different parts of the world and there was nothing unusual about it. People’s security matters to them and the state cannot challenge the fact of their safety.
We once read about how fake EFCC officials invaded an estate and were granted access until someone, who knew better exposed them? In a society, where police escort is the easiest thing to get, shouldn’t your guards be careful? So, if MC Oluomo comes with his heavy escort, they should just fling their gates open and not do their proper checks?
We have also read about how a police security to the late Femi Osibona engaged agents of the state, led by Odumosu himself and even shot at them? With plausible abuse of police, the estate guards too needed circumspection and not be moved by the sight of heavy security. Importantly, the estate has its rules on how visitors are engaged.
I recall, when during the #EndSARS protest, both Brooks and Magodo Phase II, were under attacks by thugs, who had hijacked the protest, and had attempted to force their way in, these same guards prevented and warded them off. They were simply doing their work.
Would Mr. Odumosu do this in Banana Island, where he’d need a code to go in? Let’s condemn what’s wrong and let’s not glorify impunity. If those who should keep the laws of the land and its fullness break them, then, society is endangered.
Here in Nigeria, you’ll see police and military personnel breaking simple traffic laws as though there were a different set of laws applicable to them. Yet, they hide behind their uniforms to do this, reason it is easier for criminals to use same uniforms to unleash terror on citizens and perpetrate crimes.
Odumosu visited an estate; the estate has rules and he is not above those rules. What he has done arresting those guards is an abuse of office and power and it is condemnable. Talk about strong institutions, it is not automatic.
Decent people, who defer to rules, regulations and extant laws build institutions. But where you have wrong people in power, institutions will crumble, no matter how long you have tried to build them. This is why human capacity development is directly related to institution building.
Discretion is good and on many occasions, had saved situations. But discretion cannot substitute for set rules and regulations. Discretion is a personal decision for which the person exercising it is ready to take responsibility, just in case it goes south. But no one gets reprimanded for obeying rules. On this, Mr. Odumosu stepped out of line. Period!