Every Nigerian knew the case of Cynthia Udoka Osokogu who met her untimely death in the hands of her murderers on July 22, 2012. Cynthia was the only daughter of Rtd Major General Frank Osokogu. She was brutally murdered in a room at Casmillo Hotel, Lakeview Estate Phase 1, Amuwo Odofin, FESTAC, Lagos. She reportedly left Abuja to buy goods that according to her facebook “friends” arrived from United Kingdom. But unfortunately they laced her Ribena drink with a drug identified as Rohyphnol Flunitrazepan, chained her, beat her up and mercilessly raped her until her life was no more. She was a young lady of 25, a Postgraduate student of Nassarawa State University in northern Nigeria and proprietress of Dress Code Boutique, who set out from her home only to meet her gruesome death in the hands of greedy young men. That was where the Nigerian Police stepped in; a crime that actually catapulted Dan Okoro to greater height in the Nigerian Police Force.
One detestable thing every well meaning Nigerian would readily reject as gift is to be a police man/woman. In fact, to tell a Nigerian that he would father a police man would be seen as a curse. This is not necessarily as a result of the risks involved in policing as a profession in Nigeria but mostly because of the negative image which the Nigerian police have acquired over the years. If it were for reasons of risk, the army would have been more detestable since it even involves greater risks but the case obviously is not same with the army. A senior Police officer in Nigeria once told me that Nigerian police know very well that the citizens hate them and would even wish them dead at any given time. He said for this reason, the police would always deal decisively with anyone who dares attempt to offend or compromise the life of the police in any manner whatsoever. I pondered on that and took a critical study of the reasons why Nigerians have great resentment for the police. Some of the reasons are very obvious: insincerity, manipulation, exploitation/extortion, greed, lack of commitment, indecency, immodesty, avarice, self centeredness, Godlessness and vulgarity. The Nigerian police connote nothing but manipulations especially with regard to finding out the truth of any matter with strong attachment to selfish pecuniary interests.
The story is different with Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dan Okoro, the man who cracked down the killers of Cynthia Osokogu in a highly professional and technical approach. He may not be completely innocent, may not even be a saint but has demonstrated that the Nigerian Police can be appreciated if the citizens notice in them commitment to the course of protecting life and property; that they can at least be trusted. When the astute police man was reacting to the circumstances that prompted him to committing his entire energy to discovering the assassins of Cynthia, he maintained, “Getting those that murdered Cynthia took intensive and painstaking investigation…I had the feeling that whoever that must have killed Cynthia should not be allowed to escape justice. It was that high passion that those that committed this dastardly act should be arrested and brought to book that actually drove me. And it was in that light that we decided that we should painstakingly go into the investigation to unravel the killers” (cf. Daily Sun Newspaper, Wednesday, October 10, 2012, p.27). ACP Dan Okoro
said he had the feeling that those who killed Cynthia in such a brutal manner should not be allowed to escape justice. And that should be the basic issue here – JUSTICE.
ACP Dan Okoro hails from Imo state in the South East of Nigeria.He joined the services of the Nigerian Police in 1984. Mr. Okoro has been known for his bravery and has taken part in many suicide operations, including the arrest of foremost Sierra-Leonian war lord, Foday Sankoh between 1997-1999. His commitment in the Cynthia Osokogu saga has gained him wide popularity including the award bestowed on him by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) for the manners he conducted the investigation.
The case of ACP Dan Okoro has thus thrown a big challenge to the Nigerian Police. Known for its jiggery pokery nature, it becomes an opportunity to reconstruct, redeem and restructure its image in Nigeria. It is good for the police in Nigeria to realize that the acquisition of good name is far more and better than money. The practice of standing on the roadside and collecting peanuts is the worst thing that happened to the police in Nigeria. It smeared the image of the Police and cheapened them like a mere pie. This is more worrisome when the Nigerian police/security system is compared with those of other civilized countries like USA and Britain. Although the incumbent administration has tried to tame the Force, the Nigerian Police is yet to completely redeem its image on the collective level. The Nigerian police have for a long time adopted the mentality of “nothing goes for nothing”. In so many crime cases in Nigeria, it became very clear that the police would always compromise justice. Many times, the victim would become the culprit, especially when the individual has little pecuniary value. Sometimes, persons brought to police stations are coerced to make incriminating statements against themselves when the police are properly settled by the richer party. At other times, cases of robbery and other crimes have been traced to dubious police connections. Robbers in Nigeria have at those times used police uniforms to deceive the public. They have had access to sophisticated arms and weapons suspected to have been released through police connections. Some police men have helped to cover up crimes. Some have even for failure to be given bribes by motorists and alleged offenders, shut them without proper judicial process. Robbery cases and crimes have even taken place in the presence of Nigerian police men who rather than intervene, tried to take cover or even disguise themselves.
For these reasons, the need to celebrate police officers like Dan Okoro becomes very pertinent. He is not only an individual but represents an institution. Dan Okoro stands out for the institution of justice. He stands out for commitment. He stands out for the recognition of human dignity. He stands out for pride of a profession. He stands out for truth. Above all, he stands out for the true rebranding of Nigerian image. He stands out to tell the entire world that the Nigerian police could be better. He stands out as a gadfly who can help to bring about the desired revolution in the entire Nigerian polity. If a police man in Nigeria can be good, it means that others can also be good. If Dan Okoro can carry out an investigation in a case with vested interests and succeed, what it means is that other police men in Nigeria can also borrow a leaf from his bravery. If he could be appreciated for his commitment, transparency and dexterity, what it means is that Nigerians are yearning for men and women with high moral rectitude in their
various professions. It means that Nigeria as a nation is in need of heroes/heroines; men and women who would prove to the world that good name is better than silver and gold.. If he could adopt such a technical approach and come out at the end with positive results, it also implies that only such committed approach and positive efforts in any given endeavour can yield the desired fruit. It implies that mediocrity and manipulations have been the bane of progress in Nigeria. It all means that Nigeria would be better if all Nigerian Police were to act like ACP Dan Okoro.