AIG Tambari Yabo Muhammad
Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) Tambari Yabo Muhammad, former Oyo State Commissioner of Police, now in charge of Zone 3. Yola shared his experience with GBENRO ADESINA
What was it like being the Oyo State Commissioner of Police?
During my five months stay in Oyo State, the experience was rewarding, interesting and God-guided. I am very happy for many reasons. The first challenge that I faced when I got there was the problem of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW. There were two factions of NURTW in the state, led by Lateef Akinsola (a.k.a Tokyo) and Lamidi Mukaila (a.k.a Auxiliary). However, the command and Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State put in place a sound strategy to checkmate their excesses.
The governor suspended NURTW activities and later appointed a caretaker committee, which to a large extent, did not have sympathy for any of the factions. Sincerely, God took control when I was in Oyo State, as there was no breakdown of law and order during my tenure as CP. I am a happy cop today because the activities of the NURTW are well checked in the state.
How long did it take you to get promoted from CP to the rank of AIG?
Six years. I was a CP for six years before I was promoted to AIG. I was a CP in Kano, Kaduna, twice at Muritala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, Imo, Zamfara and Oyo State.
Is six years not too long for a promotion?
Promotion is done when there is a vacancy and it is based on seniority. You get promoted when it is your turn. But I enjoyed my six years in the position of as a commissioner because they were years of meritorious service to my country. I count myself lucky to have been promoted to the position of AIG.
Do you think Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola of Lagos State made the right decision restricting the NURTW from operating on the roads?
First, I am not competent to comment on what Governor Fashola is doing in Lagos State because I am not serving in Lagos. But I think very seriously that the excesses of the NURTW in the country should be checked. It is a union and it should operate exactly the way other unions are operating in the country.
But why was it difficult for the Oyo State government to arrest Tokyo and Auxiliary, despite the crimes allegedly linked to them?
It was not that I could not arrest them when I was the CP in the state. There were lots of obstacles and court injunctions restraining us from arresting Tokyo. So, if the court says that I should not arrest him, who am I to arrest him? We need to understand the circumstances surrounding the issue. Any time, any where I make a statement about him, the following day, his lawyer will write a rejoinder and come personally to hand it over to me that says: ‘We want to remind the CP that we have a court order restraining him from arresting our client’. Do you want me to do something silly? I will not do anything silly. Additionally, I have lots of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs, as friends who advice me on issues.
What is the most memorable event when you served in Oyo State?
I enjoyed everything in Oyo State. I didn’t have a bad experience. I had the best working relationship with the senior citizens, government and press because I don’t have skeleton in my cupboard. I can’t forget arresting a notorious criminal, Jimoh Yekini, alias Ejo who was the most wanted criminal in the state. The fact that I arrested him was a bonus for me and Oyo State Police Command. I thank God that he was arrested during my tenure.
Some criminals that were granted amnesty by the appropriate authorities formed the bulk of those paraded during your last public function in the state, how do you feel about granting amnesty to criminals in Nigeria?
I don’t want to talk about that.
What is your dream Nigeria Police?
We are not there at all but we are trying our best to be there. I want to see a cop that will be responsible for all his actions, transparent, honest, committed to service delivery, enlightened, alive to their constitutional responsibilities and above all, accountable for what we do. Once we do this, Nigerians will like us and believe in us. But if we do otherwise, Nigerians will not see us as theirs. But government and Nigerians must play their roles. Government must provide all the needed equipment and logistics while Nigerians should support us in the areas of providing information that will lead to bringing down crime in our society.
How can police-press relationship be improved?
Once the police is transparent, when they don’t hide anything, when the press comes and police cooperate by giving them needed information and respect fundamental human rights, I think there can’t be friction between the two. But when you begin to hoard information, the press will ask questions.
What are your achievements in Oyo State?
Credit goes to all the policemen in the state. However, SARS and Skynet really lived up to expectations during my stay. They arrested Ejo, a very notorious criminal. Two women in Ogbomosho with sophisticated rifles were arrested. Also in Igboho, there was an attempted bank robbery where the police in Igboho faced the robbers and killed one of them. The state was peaceful during my stay.
What is your advice for the people of Oyo State?
First, the government, I think Oyo State government is very conscious and aware of its responsibilities as regards the provision of security for the people. Sometime ago, the governor launched the Oyo State Special Security Fund which is aimed at improving service delivery, of the entire security agents, to the people. With that programme, the government intends to give at least one new vehicle to all the divisions in the state.
With that, so many things will fall in place; we may have CCTV cameras in sensitive places in Ibadan like Iwo Road, Ojoo, Challenge, Apata, Gate, Mokola and all the sensitive business districts. Oyo State Government is living up to expectations and they should not relent. I am sure Governor Ajimobi will continue to improve. He is a good leader that is always happy serving his people. The people of Oyo State should not stop cooperating with the police. For the policemen, they should continue to make Oyo State safe for all the residents. But for the deviants among them, they should prepare for the worst in the police force. Some of them were caught and dismissed during my tenure. I dismissed five policemen within my five months stay.