Nigeria Police night of glory

The maiden Nigeria Police Awards and Commendations held on April 15, 2024, has all the trappings of an epochal event. Notwithstanding the provisions of Order 68 and other statutory provisions in the Police Acts 2020 (as amended) and the occasional presentation of Commendation Letters to deserving officers, it is the first time ever that the hierarchy of the Force was organising an astounding ceremony with a national flair to collectively recognise and honour deserving individual officers and units for their outstanding contributions, sacrifices, acts of gallantry, honesty and patriotism.

The Award Dinner which hosted well over 350 special guests, senior officers and dignitaries was held on a Monday, the first day of the week of April in one of Abuja’s choice event centres, Transcorp Hilton, and broadcast live during primetime on three national network television stations – Channels TV, NTA and TVC. The colourful and utterly delectable ceremony was a well-balanced blend of a formal, official ceremony and a Nollywood-styled award event with associated razzmatazz including an enchanting red-carpet corner and interviews.   

The city of Abuja, in spite of itself, was pleasantly alarmed at the intermittent blares of siren heralding the arrival of special guests in the government’s popular official shinning black SUVs which lined the entrance of the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. The long and impressive list of guests at the ceremony was a pointer to the fact that the Inspector-General of Police, the top echelon of the Force and Lenders Consult International, an important stakeholder in the award ceremony, were determined to leave a long-lasting impression. More importantly, though this may have escaped people’s [U1] thoughts, the society has come together to appreciate and honour the Force.

Leading dignitaries at the event were His Excellency, Kashim Shettima (GCON), the Vice-President representing President Bola Tinubu, the Special Guest of Honour; Sen. Godswill Akpabio, President of the Senate, His Excellency, Abba Kabir Yusuf, Governor of Kano state; Senator Ibrahim Gaidam, Honourable Minister of Police Affairs, Hon. Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, Honourable Minister of State for Police Affairs; Senator Abdulhamid Madori, Chairman Senate Committee on Police Affairs; Honourable Makki Yalleman, Chairman, House Committee on Police Affairs; General Chris Musa, Chief of Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, Chief of Army Staff; Mr. Adewale Adeniyi, Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service; His Eminence, Aminu Ado Bayero, the Emir of Kano; representatives from embassies and other security agencies and an array of former Inspectors-General of Police.   

In his welcome remarks, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Adeolu Egbetokun, stated that “this ceremony serves as a poignant reminder that the efforts of our officers are both seen and valued.”

Speaking further, he said “this also serves as reassurance that the leadership of the Force is deeply committed to the wellbeing of all members of the Force as well as improved service delivery.”

Earlier, the Chairman of the Award Committee, DIG Bala Ciroma, had stated the objective of staging the award ceremony: “The major objective of organising the awards is to inspire and motivate all police officers to higher levels of commitment in the discharge of their responsibilities.”

He explained further that nominations were invited and received from all police formations including Zonal Headquarters, State Commands, Area Commands and Divisional Headquarters. The nominations were screened by an award committee comprising police officers and a representative of a stakeholder and partner, Lenders Consult International.

Another major highlight was the seven-minute re-enactment/movie which captured the challenges and dangers officers face daily as they step out of the warm embrace of their families to maintain law and order and secure the internal security space. Drawing from comments from the Senate President and the Chief of Defence Staff, it was obvious that the movie had quite some impression on the guests.

National Police Day

In his speech, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu GCFR, ably represented by the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima (GCON) said the Nigeria Police would be transformed into a modern, professional and accountable institution that mirrors the aspirations and values of Nigeria. He said the president had approved the first week of April as Police Week and the last day of the week as National Police Day, making the 7th of April National Police Day.

A scrutiny of the winners and their accomplishments clearly shows why the decisions of the Nigeria Police to honour them were spot-on.

Below is the roll-call of some of the awardees:

  • CSP Aliyu Shaba, the DPO of Ekpan Division, Delta State Police Command, clinched the Police Officer of the Year Award and Divisional Police Officer of the Year Award.

One of his gallant exploits was recorded in September, 2023, when his team dislodged of a gang of dangerous armed robbers led by Momotimi. The criminal elements had earlier been declared wanted in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers Commands. Momotimi and his gang members had robbed, kidnapped, maimed, and cut short lives of many promising Nigerians including those of police officers across the three states.

  • Command Commissioner of the Year Award went to CP Olatunji Rilwanu Disu, who is currently the Commissioner of Police for the Rivers State Command. Upon his assumption in office as the Commissioner of Police, he successfully confronted a notorious criminal in the state, Gift Okpara (aka 2Baba) and his gang. 2Baba was top on the list of wanted criminals in Rivers State and was also responsible for the heinous murder of SP Bako Angbashim.
  • The Community Policing Advocate of the Year Award was deservedly carted away by CP Mohammed Gumel, the incumbent Commissioner of Police, Kano State Police Command. Within one month of his assumption of office as CP Kano, through inter-agency collaboration, intelligence gathering, stakeholders’ engagements and other community policing strategies, he drastically reduced the incidences of mobile phone robbery in the Kano Metropolis.
  • Crime Buster of the Year Award was bagged by CSP Odeyeyiwa Oladimeji, the Officer in Charge of Anti-Kidnapping Unit of Imo State Police Command.

CSP Oladimeji led the operations that arrested the IPOB/ESN Imo State Commander, Nwagwu Chinwendu a.k.a Onyearmy; IPOB/ESN Operational Commander, Uchechi Eze a.k.a Lionheart, Emeagwa Emeka and other key members of the terrorist group.

  • The Area Commander of the Year Award went to ACP Muhammad Z. Musa, who is currently the Area Commander, Potiskum, Yobe State Command.

Since his assumption in office as the Area Commander he has continually employed the use of Community Policing strategies to resolve issues and maintain peace and security in his AOR.

  • The Patrol Team of the Year Award was jointly cliched by the quartet of Inspectors Usman Haruna, Gambo Mgarmaju, Difference Tih and Corporal Zaharadeen Mamuda, who formed the Patrol Team from 40 PMF, Taraba State Police Command. On Monday, January 29, 2024, the officers intercepted a vehicle and recovered a cash sum of N8,555,000, seven phones; 3,000 unused recharge cards and four amulets. The suspect attempted to bribe the PMF personnel, requesting them to take all the money and allow him to go, but the PMF personnel refused and arrested him accordingly.
  • Investigator of the Year Award was bagged by SP Kasumu Rilwan Oluropo, the officer in charge CPTactical Team Ijanikin, Area K Command Lagos State Command. He has led several investigations into some of Nigeria’s most celebrated murder and drug cases.
  • Detective of the Year Award went to Inspector Onyia Everistus of SCID, Enugu Command. His professional skills in the management of crime scene, utilization of forensic and technological tools in his investigations earned him the accolade.
  • Award for Gallantry was clinched by SP Elaigwu Augustine,

Commander, Counter Insurgency/Joint Operation FOB, Aguata Anambra State Command. The Officer has displayed various stints of gallantry and in one such instance his exploits led to the destruction and dislodgement of IPOB/ESN terrorists from their camp at Ogbunka in Orumba South LGA of Anambra state.

  • Award for Integrity was won by SP Idris Ibrahim. Regarded as a unique award, the officer is famed for his exhibition of commitment to encourage honesty among officers. SP Idris Ibrahim, the DPO of Tafa Division in the Kaduna State Command, is recognised for raiding a hotel in Tafa Area of Kaduna State where he arrested one Bello with the sum of N2.5m. The suspected attempted to bribe the DPO with the sum of N1 million which he outrightly rejected.
  • The IGP Special Recognition Awards which are at the discretion of the boss chief went to CP Benneth Igweh, the CP of the FCT Police Command, among others. CP Igweh has been leading his dedicated team, raiding and combing hide-outs of armed bandits, kidnappers and other miscreants in the forests and bushes in the hitherto beleaguered Bwari Area Council and its environs and recording successes.
  • In the Special Achievement Awards category, DCP Mohammed Sanusi, Commander, IGP’s Intelligence Response Unit (IRT), DSP Ntul Sylvanus, Commander, EOD/CBRN, Base 13, Borno State Command and the Nigeria Police Force National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC) were specially honoured for various acts of gallantry and accomplishments. Also commended were SP Moruf Akanbi Salami (Commander, Special Weapons and Tactics -SWAT), CSP Ameh Lydia (Force Insurance Officer) and all 17 Police Medalists at the 13th African Games in 2023.
  • For its contributions and support in the Force’ capacity building efforts, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NNDC) was honoured with the Police Support Recognition Award.

All told, the event will go down in history as a day to remember and/or appreciate this internal security laager as a critical layer of the nation’s security architecture.  

Shina Philips is a foremost security expert based in Abuja