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President Jonathan, What Is It About Police Officer Joseph Mbu That Makes Him A Persistent Controversial Element On Matters Of Democracy And Civil Liberties In Nigeria?

Source: Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi
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President Jonathan, in recent times you have increasingly called for the respect of human rights in our young democracy, given the painful history of attacks on the press by some past administrations, especially by the military who took a largely hostile view of the press.

Time after time, you have expressed that the Nigerian government and officials should show full respect for freedom of press and speech, as you have made it your sacred duty to steadfastly entrench our growing democracy with various freedoms.

But here is Mr. Joseph Mbu, a high level police officer at the nation's capital and just elevated to the rank of Assistant Inspector-General, whoappears to be openly defying your crucial call for the respect of freedom of the press and speech.

For some reason, this man who, unfortunately, represents your government before the eyes of the free world, appears to enjoy a life of provocation, bullishness, controversy, attack mode, self- boastfulness, and hostile dispositions.

Mr. President, on this period of celebrating our Independence and gradually moving towards the line of growing democratic freedoms, Joseph Mbu, reportedly ordered the detention of an AIT senior journalist, Amaechi Anakwe, for describing him as “controversial” on a program aired by the station.

For this journalist to be brought into the police premises for his opinion, first as a human being and, second, as a press communicator,is a dishonor to the continuing efforts of our nation's people toward strengthening our independence and leaving behind forced control and domination.

No matter the outcome of this breach of human rights incident, Mr. Mbu's apparent show of negativity and fighting behavior, at least verbally, does not bode well for a government like that of Nigeria,a government that is being watched by the world at this critical time of security and economic challenges.

Mr. President, in our current state of affairs,why would a man like Mr. Mbu with many lives, both private and public, depending on him in the nation's capital, suddenly appear to be possessed with an obsessionfor do-or-die power?

The long standing psychological problems of Nigerian police officials is well known in the nation,and to this very day, there remains a lack of adequate professional psychological services for both trainees and exiting or serving officers such as Mr. Mbu.

How do we know if this man is not possibly suffering from negative and unhealthy mental processes? There appears to be something wrong with Mr. Mbu, as his attitude, as it is being reported, leaves journalists more fearful and uncomfortable in public and in private under security agents like himself. Who will be his next victim of verbal threats, such as this journalist has experienced?

Mr. President, the fact that this journalist was even called or “invited” to a security premises like that of the Nigerian policeforce endangers the protection of free speech and press. Mr. Mbu's reported behavior towards the Nigerian free press is nothing short of astrong-arm tactic forsilencing media organizations and their representatives across the country.

Sir, it is immaterial at this time how this case ends or whether he faces internal query by his supervisors who hopefully are not intimidated by him. This man's act has brought shame and a slap to your presidency, to the police profession, and above all, to the personal safety and security of journalists.

The Jonathan administration cannot allow this sort of behavior to go unpunished,especially from a man who appears to hate dissenting opinions, disrespects basic human rights and takes pleasure in overusing and abusing his power.

Currently, the position of the Nigerian Police Force as recently outlined by Mr. Suleiman Abba, the new Inspector General of Police,is to heighten the image of professionalism in the force. Therefore, for the good of the entire police community that wishes to distance itself from its old reputation as a violator of human rights, an excessively antagonistic officer like Mr. Mbu should be forced to retire, or face immediate dismissal, in addition to beingstrongly encouraged to seek some form of self-help a civilian on matters of personal reflection and respect for the Nigerian Constitution.

President Jonathan, remember you do not need the United States of America to keep reminding your administration to ensure freedom of the press. You yourself have personally made it clear that one sacred way to honor God and the people of Nigeria is to steadfastly show respect for each other as entrenchment in our culture, constitution and country.

Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic and Clinical Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. [email protected]

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