There is no gainsaying that Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) Lawal Tanko Jimeta is one of the most decorated and finest police officers in Nigeria today. The police officer has been silently making revolutionary exploits in the force and adding tremendous value to it. Because of the feats he attained, the Jimeta community recently organized an elaborate dinner celebration where creme de la crème of the society poured encomiums and approbations on him. In this interview with Mohammed Ismail, Jimeta took us down memory lane on the trajectories and challenges of the police force believing that one day, Nigeria Police Force will become the best in the world. Jimeta who combines crime fighting with poetry said writing poems gives him a lot inspration in tackling crimes and put him in the best shape to face the challenges of his tough job.
The Jimeta community recently organized a befitting dinner in your honour, how do you feel?
Alhamdulillahi, I felt really humbled by the honour done to me by the Jimeta community. I’m really very happy, most especially, because I don’t even know that I’m being noticed. So I became humbled by the recognition and show of love. I want to use this opportunity to thank each and every person that participated. I specifically thank the committee of friends that put up the reception for me. I also thank all my elders that came from far and wide to rejoice with me. I’m sincerely very happy and I thank everybody.
In the first place what motivated you to join the Nigeria Police Force?
It is all about interest. When you put the interest of serving your people, in serving your community and making sure that there is law, order and peace everywhere, then the police force is your best abode. I can also say fate also plays a lot of roles in peoples’ destinies. Sometimes while growing up you may be thinking of something in mind but as you grow, circumstances change all that and you see yourself in another place.
But I think the basic thing is having faith in God in accepting whatever he has given to you and if you do that, you will become contented with your roles and also ready to serve your people. Police force is full of adventures Alhamdulillahi while in the police, I’ve traversed the whole world, I went to places I never imagined I will travel to, and also worked with people around the world. There are virtually few countries that I have not travelled to and the reason is because I’m a policeman. If I’m not a police officer, I don’t think I will have that opportunity. I got a lot of opportunities in the police and I’m happy I really made good use of the opportunities.
Apart from being a police officer you’re also a poet what is the driving force?
Poetry brings the innermost feelings of a person. I incidentally studied English at the university and while in the university, I used to write poems. So when I found myself at peace keeping situations (I was in Bosnia, I was in Liberia and all the troubled spots), I was able to comfort myself through poetry. Some of the situations challenged me to write poems and I feel that by the poems, I was able to express myself and I always felt relaxed knowing that I have given my little efforts no matter how infinitisemal in bringing out the challenges to the fore. I feel absolutely happy and relived whenever I write poems.
How do you relate fighting crimes and poetry writing?
They always coexist, when you write poems, you are also trying to send a message to the society to stop crime especially the themes I take. I virtually take human emotions, peace, love and also sadness. When I’m sad and I wrote poems, I become relieved instatenously. Poetry also enabled me to express myself in people’s interests. So I look at fighting crimes philosophically. It enables me to dig deep and find out why people are committing crimes and also proffers solutions to them. So these are some of the areas fighting crime and poetry relate because there is no society without crime because it results from deviation from the norms of the society. But at least if someone knows that there are consequences in crime, that knowledge will stop him from committing the crime.
Men of Nigeria police force always perform excellently well whenever they are sent on peace keeping operations, on the flip side, the police as an institution is one of the most corrupt institutions in Nigeria, what is your take on this?
This has been the recurring questions sunce I became part of the peace keeping operations in 1996. Nigeria police has one of the best policemen in Africa. In fact, we compete favourably with police the world over. The reason why the Nigeria police always excell in those operations is because of the environment. But if you are working at home here, you are working with some constraints occasioned by the large numbers we have here and also the size of the country. I believe that the government willingness to better the condition of the police will really do a lot in repositioning it. God so kind the present administration is trying very hard in that direction. The present IGP Alkali Usman Baba is also trying his best to reposition the police. But there are a lot of challenges in Nigeria police just as there are a lot challenges in all facets of our national life.
All over the world there is no country that is absolutely free of crimes even the most developed countries. Some incidences where someone will go to school and shoot people abound. There is no society that is 100 percent free of crimes. But I will say there is a lot of room for improvement and I believe the present administration is trying very hard to ensure that the police is really repositioned to be able to tackle the insecurity in the land.
What critical changes do you think the police need tackle to be properly repositioned?
I don’t think I’m competent to answer this question but my personal belief is that when the police get the resources that it needs, better welfare, better equipment and also improved personnel and also more recruitment we will get to the promised land. Thankfully the present administration is also recruiting more personnel as about 20,000 policemen will soon be recruited, that is quite large. But one thing that I must emphasize as has been said by the IGP is that the community must also participate because the police can’t cover every nook and cranny of the land. Communities should be willing to collaborate and cooperate with the police to ensure crime is brought to the minimum.
Can you briefly tell us your life history?
My name is Lawal Tanko Jimeta, I was born and brought up in Jimeta in Yola north local government of Adamawa State. I attended central primary school Jimeta from where I proceeded to General Murtala Ramat College and then proceeded to the University of Maiduguri. Before joining the police, I was a student artists in NTA. So we were going to school and coming back to work in NTA. Later I joined the police force. I started work in Ibadan after the police academy from Ibadan, I was posted back to security intelligence at headquarters where I rose through the ranks till I became ASP.
I started peace keeping operations in 1996 in Bosnia and I came back in 1997/98. When I at Bosnia, I grabbed the opportunity of training and became one of the United Nations certified trainers.
I was then posted to Lagos where I served as DCO bar beach and DCO Maroko, then before leaving Lagos, to peace keeping I was at the force headquarters. While in Abuja, I was transferred to to zone 7 as a second in command CID. From zone 7, I went to area command Suleja. I was there till 2012 and I was thereafter appointed as the chief personnel and administration in Mali for the African Multinational forces. I was there from 2012 – 2014 or so before coming back. I served both in peace mission of African Union and multinational forces from where I crossed over to UN multi dimensional peace keeping operations in Mali. After that I was in Bosnia from Bosnia I crossed over to Kosovo and I came back.
I went to Liberia, in Liberia, I stayed almost three years and we established the Liberian national police force. From there I came back and went to Istimo. I was there for two years before coming back. I went to Mali, Mali was the last place. In between I think in 2010, I went for the interpol support mission in South Africa during the world cup where we served as the police representation. From Suleja I was back to Mali and was given the director peace keeping of the Nigeria police force that was why I had to come back from Mali. I was there when eventually I was again posted back to zone 7 as DC operations from where I became CP.
I was CP Central Criminal Registry in Abuja then I became commissioner of police mobile force then from there I went to Edo State from Edo State to Bauchi State. In Bauchi, I was given higher duty post at POLAC before I was confirmed AIG and also confirmed the commandant of police academy Wudil.
What dreams do you have for the police academy Wudil?
Very big dream. I want to transform it to be the best in Africa. It is the second police academy in Africa besides Mubarak police academy Egypt which I also attended where I studied antiterrorism and related courses. I want Wudil to be one of the best police academies in the world. There are a lot of challenges, but challenges are meant to be faced and I’m sure by the special grace of God we will face them squarely.
How many wives and children do you have and what is your best food?
I have two wives and eight children and my best food is tuwon shikafa and Okro soup. I also enjoyed Fura da nono very well and I also enjoyed tuwon dawa.